What to Make of Philly’s Week of Mayhem?

Plus, the Phillies' questionable decision to postpone the home opener. And … are you ready for Philly's first municipal public restroom? I'm not.

philadelphia police on wednesday night after large groups of teams caused crime and mayhem in the city

Members of the Philadelphia Police Department on Wednesday night after large groups of teams made their way through Center City (Image courtesy 6ABC)

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It’s Been a Week of Mayhem in Philadelphia

I know, I know. Some of you will read that headline and say it’s been years of mayhem in Philadelphia, referring to the unacceptably high homicide numbers (which are, thankfully, trending downward, which is better than upward), carjackings and the like. Particularly those of you who live in the suburbs. Who never set foot in the city. And who get all your Philadelphia news from Mr. Doom and Gloom, Steve Keeley, over at Fox 29.

And it’s true that crime is rampant. It’s also true that the problem isn’t helped by Jim “I Don’t Wanna Be Mayor Anymore” Kenney. His do-nothing approach doesn’t exactly give you the impression that he has the situation under control. Which, of course, he doesn’t.

But in the last several days, we’ve seen different types of incidents.

Over the weekend, Rivers Casino (nee Sugarhouse) was the scene. Hundreds of people — most reportedly on the younger side — blocked the entrance to the casino. They did all kinds of stupid (but fun-looking) things with their cars and bikes. Eventually, they trapped a cop in the middle of the crowd.

“I’m currently being surrounded by about 500 to 700 people,” said the trapped cop on the police radio call. “I can’t get out of my vehicle.”

Later in the call, as dispatch was trying to find officers to respond to the scene, and apparently not quickly enough, the cop’s tone got a bit more elevated. “Fuck that!” he yelled into his radio. “I’m out here at ground zero surrounded by hundreds of vehicles.”

In that incident, members of the unruly group reportedly jumped on and vandalized some of the responding police vehicles and those nearby before police were able to disperse the mob.

Then last night, another incident. According to police, hundreds (police say at least a “few hundred”) of juveniles took over Market Street in Center City. Many were “disorderly” and “up to no good,” police officials said during a Thursday afternoon press conference. They added that four or five juveniles were arrested, one of them being a 13-year-old carrying an Airsoft gun, which strongly resembles a real gun. While original reports indicated that the group may have caused property damage, police later said there was none reported. One police officer was injured when he fell during a foot pursuit and is expected to be out of work for several months.

“Hey, it’s just Spring Break in Philadelphia,” I jadedly jested with a Philadelphia Police Department representative on Wednesday night as police were working to sort out the whole thing. “Somebody else just said the same exact thing,” she told me.

Kenney came out of his hole to address Wednesday night’s events and may have had some bad information when he did so.

Here’s what he had to say on Twitter:

Tonight, a large group of mostly young people was being destructive and disruptive in Center City. This dangerous behavior will not be tolerated. We take public safety very seriously—I’m grateful to Philly Police for responding, dispersing the crowd, and making necessary arrests.

I’m saddened when young people engage in behavior that endangers themselves and others, especially because it is not representative of the majority of our city’s youth, who are positively engaged in their communities. We all must work together to support our young people.

He then offered a link for teen services offered by the city.

With the mayoral candidates touting their plans for addressing public safety in Philadelphia, maybe we should start just turning to them for answers, unless we can somehow convince the mayor to do the job we are paying him for. Maybe convince him that this would be a good time to hold a real press conference where journalists can ask him the hard questions and demand answers. What does he have to lose?

As for such incidents as the ones described above, keep in mind that it’s not even summer yet. And as we all know, when the weather gets warmer, such incidents tend to happen more frequently. It would be nice if someone was in charge.

Ed. Note: This story was updated on Thursday after police issued corrected information about Wednesday night’s events.

About that Phillies Postponement

Below in her always entertaining and informative daily sports column, my learned colleague Sandy Hingston made note of the Phillies postponing their home opener today due to the threat of bad weather. They did so yesterday around 6 p.m., around the time that the home opener would have been wrapping up today and, in meteorological terms, light years before a drop of rain would even fall. I dunno, I just wonder if this is going to feel like that time (well, more likes times) when my kids’ school took a snow day (back when snow days existed) and then we got not a flake. I guess time will tell. Anyway, see you at the ballpark tomorrow, I guess.

Political Movements

Tuesday was an important day for those of us who pay close attention to the minutiae of the mayor’s race. It’s the day that we could finally get a look at the individual candidates’ fundraising and expenditures.

Before we had a chance to sift through all the data, Helen Gym blasted out a press release, boasting about her financial position in the race. “Aside from those self-funding their campaigns, Gym leads in cash on hand at this critical stage, with over 2,100 individual donors — the most in the field,” read a statement sent out by the Gym campaign.

Here’s something that will surprise absolutely no one: Allan Domb has more campaign money than any of the other candidates, most of it coming from his own pocket. He’s also spent the most money — by far — on television commercials.

Then there’s all that mysterious dark money that gets funneled into candidate coffers. And who is benefiting the most from said dark money? ShopRite mogul Jeff Brown.

You can delve into the campaign finance database yourself here. But I warn you: it’s a rabbit hole. Meanwhile, the Inquirer has a handy distillation of all the loot, along with nifty charts. I love charts.

Oh, and before we wrap up this riveting discussion about the mayoral campaign, let us take a look at Helen Gym’s first campaign commercial:

Eh, I don’t have much to say about it other than I do like her campaign’s font, for what that’s worth.

By the Numbers

$265,913,000: Upgrades to Pennsylvania’s drinking water infrastructure announced by the Biden-Harris administration on Wednesday.

$376: Price of a seat twelve rows behind home plate for the Phillies home opener this Friday.

100%: Chances that I’m going to sell my ticket to the Phillies home opener and just watch the game from a bar where the domestic beers don’t cost me $13.

1: Number of municipal public restrooms Philadelphia is (finally) about to have.

0%: Chances of me ever using one. (Sorry, I realize these things will benefit a lot of people. But I’m a germ freak. And something tells me that a germ freak and a municipal public restroom in Philadelphia aren’t two things that pair very nicely.)

And from the Hey-We-Got-a-Night-Off! Sports Desk …

The Phillies’ bad start to the season got a little worse yesterday afternoon with a 4-2 loss to the Yankees. They’re now 1-5. Philly, you know what to do:

The loss wasted a solid outing by pitcher Aaron Nola, who went six-plus innings, gave up three runs, and struck out five. (Another Schwarbomb, though!) Brandon Marsh was a scratch for the game with an ankle sprain, and Darick Hall hurt his thumb sliding into second base.

But the big Phillies news is that today’s home opener against the Reds was postponed until Friday at 3:05, because the rains, they are supposed to rain down on us this afternoon. Hmm, 3 p.m. this Friday …

The Sixers play the Heat tonight at 7:30 at the Center. That’s all we’ve got! Oh, except we just have to ask: Is anybody more fun than Trea Turner?

The Flyers also play.

All Philly Today Sports Desk coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.