PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A City of Philadelphia ribbon-cutting, marking the opening of new public green space in front of the Free Library on the Ben Franklin Parkway was interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters, who crashed the event.
The speeches on the opening of the new Shakespeare and Pennypacker Parks were moved indoors to the atrium of the Library because of excessive heat, but just as the ceremony began, three activists with bullhorns came rushing to the podium.
Mayor Kenney quickly shooed away fast approaching uniformed police officers.
“I don’t need protection from citizens who are expressing their first amendment views. I need to listen and accept what they had to say,” said Kenney.
As the protestors carried on for a full 20 minutes, they acknowledged the Mayor’s acceptance of their actions. He touched his hand to his heart, nodding to them, and then shook their hands.
As they were leaving, a library worker at the exit said something they didn’t like, which re-ignited emotions. The mayor walked over to intercede, and flashed a peace sign.
Then he spoke to the audience.
“Protest in our country is sacrosanct. People have a right to express their opinions anywhere, and as loud and long as they like,” Kenney said.
Mayor Kenney assured the activists that the investigation into the police shooting of 30-year-old David Jones would be transparent, and if there’s appropriate action to be taken against the officer, it will be done.
Jones was said to be riding a dirt bike erratically, and when an officer stopped him, they got into a struggle. A preliminary police report indicates Jones had a 9-mm firearm. A witness reportedly said it fell to the ground, and he was running away, when he was shot and killed. Police are looking at surveillance video of the encounter.
At the end of the ceremony, participants walked out into the sweltering heat for the visuals: the ribbon cutting in Shakespeare Park, aptly described by Siobhan Reardon, President and Director of Free Library of Philadelphia:
“Welcome to what we consider our front porch, Shakespeare Park.”
That’s where crews covered part of the previously open area over I-676, hardscaped with paver blocks to create an amphitheater in a circular plaza.
The new pedestrian bridge over I-676, between 20th and 19th Streets, links Logan Square with Vine Street.