PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said Thursday that he regretted tear gassing nonviolent, peaceful protesters on I-676. But on Friday, some City Councilmembers are calling on Kenney to also apologize for authorizing the use of tear gas in West Philly last month.
West Philadelphia saw chaos back on May 31, where looting and arson rocked the neighborhood in broad daylight at 52nd and Market Streets.
“It was scary,” Councilmember Jamie Gauthier said.
Gauthier represents West Philly and was there when the tear gas was fired.
“To see the tanks come through, letting off tear gas, to see riot cops coming at us, I couldn’t even identify who I was to the riot cops,” Gauthier said. “I had to run with everybody else. It was absolutely terrifying.”
I understand that @PhillyMayor and @PPDCommish were responding to the NY Times video in their press conference today. But I'm beyond frustrated that the use of tear gas and other munitions on 52nd Street – a residential Black neighborhood – is not receiving equal attention.
— Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (@CouncilmemberJG) June 25, 2020
The tear gas didn’t just impact those causing the chaos, but also families who live in the neighborhood. One family chose to flee their own home. Shakira King, who was there to keep young people separated from police, says there was no warning when the gas was deployed either.
“I literally could not see, my face was burning,” King said. “My skin was burning.”
Outlaw said Thursday she regrets her department using tear gas on protesters and reporters on I-676. She and Kenney also apologized to those protesters but there was no apology for what happened in West Philly.
“I think that an apology is owed,” Gauthier said.
The mayor on Friday said this about the tear gas used in West Philadelphia.
“Anyone who was inconvenienced or was affected by that, I do apologize to them,” Kenney said, “but the situation there was tenuous and dangerous and needed to be rectified.”
Kenney adds the use of tear gas is still being investigated.
Gauthier also co-sponsored a resolution introduced on Thursday that would hold hearings on the police’s response in West Philadephia and throughout the city.
On Tuesday, a community speak-out will be held at Malcolm X Park at 5:30 p.m.