PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than a dozen protesters were taken into custody at City Hall Thursday afternoon. The crowd gathered to call for an end to evictions. In the process, they blocked the district attorney’s office.
Even though the CDC called to halt eviction hearings across the country, there were some held in Philadelphia Thursday. Those were scheduled before the pandemic.
Eyewitness News was there as 17 people were led away in handcuffs after protesting eviction hearings outside the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. Police cited them for failing to disperse after they blocked the entrance to the building for hours.
Eyewitness News also found some protesters around the corner, demonstrating in front of the entrance to the municipal court.
One demonstrator held a papier-mâché of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney but she and several others declined to be interviewed, saying “I don’t talk to the press.”
Protesters also marched down Chestnut Street to South Broad Street, blocking traffic.
When evictions are halted, landlords say their rights are being taken away.
“When tenants are experiencing a problem, that’s a societal problem,” said Paul Cohen.
Cohen is of the Homeowners Association of Philadelphia, which is the city’s biggest group representing landlords.
“If you don’t have food, you don’t go to the grocery store and steal the food. Tenants not paying rent is like stealing. People don’t look at it that way but it in essence is that landlord depends on that money,” Cohen said.
Cohen says 54% of rental units are owned by small-time landlords who oftentimes have mortgages on their buildings.