DA Rescinds Charges Against Man Accused of Defacing Israeli Flag
The investigation into Tuesday’s incident is ongoing.
Two days after the Philadelphia Police Department arrested a man who was accused of defacing the Israeli flag on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the charges against him have been rescinded by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, Philly Mag has learned.
On Wednesday in an email to media outlets, police identified the man arrested as 26-year-old Antoine Guyton, adding that he had been charged with institutional vandalism, criminal mischief, and related offenses — all charges that have now been rescinded. The record of the arrest and the charges filed have been deleted from the court system.
“The charges have been rescinded at this time but it is still very much an active investigation,” DA spokesperson Ben Waxman tells Philly Mag. “To protect the integrity of that investigation, we have no further comment at this time.”
The incident occurred on Tuesday afternoon around 4 p.m. Police received a call stating that somebody was spray painting the Israeli flag on the Parkway with red paint. When officers arrived on the scene, the man was gone, but while they were there taking the report, Guyton showed up on the scene and was, according to police in Wednesday’s statement, “positively identified” by witnesses as the man who had defaced the flag.
According to a source close to the investigation, police have been provided with photos and a video of the defacement in progress, and the act of vandalism may have been instigated by a local protest group.
Local officials were quick to condemn the incident.
“Hate and anti-Semitism have no place in the city of Philadelphia,” Mayor Kenney said. “While I understand that emotions are running high and there are many viewpoints stemming from recent violence against Palestinians and other protestors in the Gaza Strip, it doesn’t warrant hateful acts of vandalism.”
And Laura Frank from the Jewish Federation called the vandalism “horrific and horrid,” adding that it “was quite a shock to see… an act of anti-Semitism actually happen in front of you.” Staffers from the Jewish Federation were among the witnesses to the vandalism.
We’ll keep you posted.