Cherelle Parker Wants to Unleash the U.S. Military in Kensington

Can soldiers help solve the opioid crisis? Plus, the Phillies go from heroes to zeroes.

Philadelphia mayoral candidate Cherelle Parker, who wants to bring the National Guard to Kensington (photo courtesy Philadelphia City Council)

Philadelphia mayoral candidate Cherelle Parker, who wants to bring the National Guard to Kensington (photo courtesy Philadelphia City Council)

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Cherelle Parker Wants to Unleash the U.S. Military in Kensington

In less than two weeks — don’t forget: Election Day is November 7th — Democrat Cherelle Parker will face Republican David Oh, the self-proclaimed former Green Beret, for the big desk in the mayor’s office. And then, barring some astronomically unlikely scenario, the city will inaugurate Parker as mayor on January 2nd, when all of the city’s many problems officially become her problems.

One of the biggest issues facing Parker is the opioid crisis. And any conversation about the opioid crisis in Philadelphia centers on Kensington, which has become the largest open-air drug market on the Eastern Seaboard. There are countless viral and totally tasteless videos on TikTok and the like of the neighborhood and its inhabitants. Fox 29 sensationalist Steve Keeley loves to spend time there, posting photos of people passed out in cars with their heads on the steering wheel. The neighborhood has become a go-to for visits by national political candidates like Dr. Oz and Vivek Ramaswamy, visits that wind up on the national news. In short, Kensington is a mess. So what will Mayor Cherelle Parker do to clean it up?

Parker gave us a taste of her plan earlier this week when she participated in a town hall with Oh on 6 ABC. Sharrie Williams was the host. The event included questions submitted by viewers.

“Will you declare a state of emergency and request the National Guard to quell the violence and crime plaguing this city?” one Northeast Philadelphia resident asked Parker. She didn’t give a clear answer to that particular question. But she did make clear what she will use the National Guard for, getting a couple small jabs in at checked-out Mayor Kenney in the process.

“Will I call on them to help us, for example, shut down the open-air drug market in Kensington that’s being allowed to prevail?” Parker responded. “They will be a part of the solution. What that looks like — I’m going to have an experienced police commissioner who’s going to define what that plan is. But what they will know is that they won’t have a mayor who they have to work with who is afraid of empowering them with the ability to actually do their jobs and keep our city safe.”

The specter of deploying the United States military in Philadelphia naturally brings back memories of 2020, when heavily armed troops arrived here amid the civil unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd. And not everybody is going to be a fan of Parker’s plan.

The National Guard in Cherelle Parker's district in Philadelphia in 2020

The National Guard in Cherelle Parker’s district in Philadelphia in 2020 (Getty Images)

But during the town hall, Parker defended the 2020 military presence, referencing troops on Wadsworth Avenue in Northwest Philadelphia, which was in then-Councilperson Parker’s district. Parker, who is also a fan of stop-and-frisk, referenced somebody saying back then that the neighborhood was “being over-policed and militarized.” “I said to myself, ‘Where does that person live?'” Parker recalled. It turned out that the person didn’t actually live in the neighborhood. “The people who lived there and who did business there respected the peaceful nature in which we partnered with the National Guard to have them there,” she added.

About that Inauguration …

Those of you well-versed in the city code and the calendar might think I made a typo when I wrote earlier that the inauguration of the next mayor will take place on January 2nd. Mayoral inaugurations in Philadelphia always happen on the first Monday in January. And the first Monday in January 2024 is January 1st. But you know what else happens on January 1st, right? Yes, the Mummers Parade. So City Council decided to bump inauguration to January 2nd.

About that David Oh …

After 6 ABC aired its town hall, Fox 29 reporter Jeff Cole ran an interview with David Oh. The subject of Kensington came up, of course. “There will no longer be open-air drug dealing,” Oh told Cole. “No longer be people purchasing drugs in front of police, no ability to go through a neighborhood and make it a lawless place.” Cole and Oh also discussed the controversial Sixers arena plan, with Oh calling it “suspect.”

Local Talent

Though most of the local or local-adjacent tabloid couple news these days focuses on Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce or Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, there’s also Bradley Cooper and Gigi Hadid to track on our romance radar. The sole heartthrob of the Abington-Jenkintown area has been seen canoodling of late with the model and TV personality, who is 20 years his junior. According to People, Cooper and Hadid recently spent some time together at the River House at Odette’s. The New Hope hotel is about 15 minutes from a sprawling $5.6 million farm property in Mechanicsville owned by Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Yolanda Hadid, Gigi’s mom.

By the Numbers

4,429: Bottles of rare whiskey the PLCB is offering up in an online lottery, the winners of the lottery not being given bottles of whiskey but the privilege of having the right to purchase them. Hurry: registration ends this Friday.

$5,000: Paltry amount of the two million stolen dimes that the four men accused of stealing them from Northeast Philadelphia allegedly managed to launder. They were reportedly using those coin machines that you dump your change jar into once every few years.

$2,995,000: What this bi-level penthouse in Rittenhouse Square will cost you. But don’t forget about the $3,406 in condo fees!

And from the It’s-All-Over Sports Desk …

One of the things I love best about sports is how you can go from zero to hero (and vice versa) in no time at all. That’s what happened to Alec Bohm last night. Everybody (including me) was bitching about his flailing hitting in this series, and folks were screaming for him to be moved from the cleanup spot. But Rob Thomson didn’t move him, and last night, Bohm came to life with a solo homer off Brandon Pfaadt in the second inning with the team down 1-0.

He then walked in the fourth and scored on a Bryson Stott double. Philly: We’re all about redemption, people! And he wasn’t the only one getting to Pfaadt in the fourth, as Realmuto singled Stott to third. Brandon Marsh, who’d been on fire at the plate, was walked semi-intentionally to load them up for Johan Rojas, who’d had that stellar catch in Monday night’s loss. He struck out. See? Hero to zero, too.

Phils starter Ranger Suárez, who’d allowed that run in the first on singles by Corbin Carroll and Gabriel Moreno and a ground-out by Christian Walker, gave up nothing more until a single to Emmanuel Rivera in the top of the fifth, and Geraldo Perdomo moved Rivera to second with a sac bunt. That brought up Ketel Marte, who’d put such a hurt on the Phils in the series. Ranger struck him out. Corbin Carroll’s turn, and he got his third hit of the game, a single that tied it up. That was it for Ranger; he came out for Jeff Hoffman. After Carroll stole second, Moreno singled, then was tagged out on a rundown, though not before Carroll scored, giving the D’backs the lead: 3-2.

Joe Mantiply came in for our half, and Schwarber led it off with a double, shaking the crowd back out of its brief doldrum. Trea Turner, who’d had his share of goat-dom at the plate this series (and we don’t mean GOAT), grounded out, Harper flied out to the wall, and Mantiply was yanked for Ryan Thompson, who faced … Bohm. This time, he popped up, stranding Schwarber and breaking hearts.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled with two outs in the sixth, but Hoffman struck out Evan Longoria to end it. In the bottom half, Stott, J.T. Realmuto and Castellanos went down 1-2-3. Thomson pulled Hoffman for José Alvarado in the seventh, and Perdomo singled off him. Marte doubled, but Perdomo held at third, and up came Carroll, who sac-flied Perdomo home. That was enough Alvarado; Thomson brought Zack Wheeler in, and he struck Moreno out. Still. It was now 4-2. In our half, Andrew Saalfrank struck out Marsh but then walked Christian Pache, in to pinch-hit for Rojas, and Schwarbs. That meant another new pitcher: Kevin Ginkel got Turner and Harper to fly out. Crappity-crap-crap.

It was Wheeler vs. Walker in the eighth, and Walker walked. Castellanos chased down a long Pham corner fly, Walker stole second, and Gurriel popped up to Turner in a crazy play.

Pavin Smith popped out, too. Ginkel stayed in for the bottom half and struck out Bohm, Stott and J.T. Many broken bats and much despair ensued. In the ninth, Wheeler got Rivera to fly out but then was pulled for Matt Strahm, who gave up a Perdomo single but struck out Marte and Carroll to end the inning. Last gasp for the Phils, vs. Paul Sewald. Castellanos flew out — he was 0-for-4 on the night — Marsh flew out, and it was on the shoulders of … Jake Cave, pinch-hitting for Pache. He flew out. End of series, end of baseball, end of life. Sucks.

See youse next year.

All Philly Today sports coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.