The Brief: Why the “Philly Is Baltimore” Protest Was Mostly Peaceful

Plus, Tony Williams and Helen Gym brawl.

The "Philly Is Baltimore" protest | Photo by Victor Fiorillo

A scene from the “Philly Is Baltimore” protest | Photo by Victor Fiorillo

1. The “Philly Is Baltimore” Protest Was “Tensely Peaceful,” and That’s a Good Thing

The Gist: After riots and looting broke out this week in Baltimore in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, state Sen. Anthony Williams said Philadelphia is “sitting on a powder keg.” District Attorney Seth Williams said “at any given time, anything could happen.” Thankfully, though, Thursday’s “Philly Is Baltimore” protest was, according to news reports, largely peaceful. Philadelphia magazine’s Victor Fiorillo, who was there, called it “tensely peaceful” and said “as of 11 p.m., we’d only heard about a handful of arrests.”

Why It Matters: There are, to be sure, numerous problems plaguing the Philadelphia police department. But in the post-Ferguson world, city police have been instrumental in helping demonstrations here remain mostly peaceful. This seems to be partly due to the fact that police leaders have stressed the importance of the U.S. Constitution to officers, and that it’s their job to maintain safety at protests. For instance, police recruits go to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., the Inquirer writes, to “learn about guarding the rights promised by the Constitution … and about how disastrous the results can be when police lose sight of those priorities.” My colleague Joel Mathis also points out that it probably doesn’t hurt that “the police went to these events dressed as police, and not as heavily shielded Greco-Roman soldiers.” Of course, the protesters deserve credit for the largely peaceful demonstration Thursday, too.

2. Tony Williams and Helen Gym Throw Punches

The Gist: NewsWorks’ Dave Davies reports:

Philadelphia state senator and mayoral candidate Tony Williams had sharp words Thursday for City Council candidate Helen Gym, saying he was “disgusted by her duplicity” at asking for his support, then joining in a news conference condemning some of his key supporters.

But Gym and her campaign manager offered a different story, saying representatives of the Williams’ campaign brought up the idea of including her on his recommended slate in the primary and asked for up to $15,000 to cover related expenses.

The Inquirer’s Chris Brennan also wrote about the smackdown:

[Williams] said he later learned that Gym’s campaign manager, Brendan McPhillips, is dating Jane Slusser, who is managing former City Councilman James F. Kenney‘s campaign for mayor. He said he now suspects a setup.

“I thought it was a productive, honest, candid conversation about how to bring people together,” Williams said. “Apparently that was not the spirit in which she entered the conversation. She prepared and planned for this. And I’m disappointed and, frankly, disgusted by her duplicity.”

Why It Matters: Two-and-a-half weeks from Election Day, the Democratic primary race is starting to get ugly. Not only are Williams and Gym brawling, but Williams is also going after his opponent Kenney over his relationship with electricians union chief John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty. Mayoral candidate Nelson Diaz has attacked Kenney over Doc, too. Expect various races in the May 19th primary to get uglier in the weeks ahead, and for negative ads to possibly drop soon in the mayor’s race.

3. Councilwoman Lands Shocker Endorsement from Former Rival

The Gist: Endorsements are rarely surprising. But a few months ago, it would have been hard to predict that Danny Savage would announce this week that he is backing Maria Quiñones-Sánchez in the race for 7th District Councilperson. In 2007 and 2011, Savage and Sánchez were bitter rivals for the same seat. Al Dia reports that Savage said he is supporting Sánchez now because “she is clearly the better candidate.”

Why It Matters: Sánchez’s opponent this year is Manny Morales, the guy who made news in March for comparing gay men to flatworms on Facebook (and his offensive comments didn’t end there). Morales insists that he did not make the posts, but has provided no evidence whatsoever to back up that claim. Anyway, the point is that 1) The fact that Savage and Sánchez made amends over this shows just how roundly dismissed Morales is in most Philadelphia political circles. 2) It’s a big win for Sánchez. And 3) Who knows? Maybe eight years from now, Williams and Gym will also settle their differences and announce a surprise endorsement. Okay, probably not.