Mayor Jim Kenney on Thursday announced the formation of a reconciliation committee in the wake of days of protests and unrest in the city following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Kenney called the group “long overdue” and said it would focus on a range of issues, including policing, criminal justice reform and poverty.
“This group will be focused on the long-term, focused on reconciliation, focused on understanding, focused on listening,” he said. “We pledge to do better.”
The committee, he said, will include civic and faith leaders, young people, community organizers and representatives from the LGBTQ community.
Kenney touted his administration’s work in reducing the city jail population and implementing reforms to the police department but admitted the city has not been able to reduce Philadelphia’s poverty rate, the highest among the nation’s largest cities.
Among those who will be part of the committee are Sarah-Ashley Andrews, of Dare 2 Hope, a local nonprofit focusing on suicide prevention; Ryan Boyer, business manager of the local Laborers’ District Council; and Pastor Carl Day, all of whom stood side-by-side with Kenney at a press conference announcing the initiative.
“We will hold the administration accountable for what they said they would do,” said Andrews, who was wearing a black shirt that said, “I matter.”
“We’re looking for results,” Day added. “Ultimately, that’s how we reconcile.”
Officials said they wanted to focus on listening before setting benchmarks for the committee.
Kenney said the initiative was spurred on by the protests, which continued Thursday. Several large demonstrations are also planned for this weekend.
Activists were successful this week in getting the city to remove the statue of former Mayor Frank Rizzo from the steps of the Municipal Services Building, and another monument to the controversial political figure is set to get a facelift.
A group representing the Italian Market on 9th Street said it is working with Mural Arts on a new design to cover up the mural of Rizzo in South Philadelphia.
“Due to the forecast of inclement weather, as soon as possible, in the interim, the Rizzo mural will become a blank canvas,” the business association said in a statement. “We agree it is time to replace this long-standing piece of art to begin to heal the Black community, the LGBTQ community and many others.”
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Thursday that 755 people have been arrested since Saturday, when protests against police brutality began in the city. At least 27 officers have been injured, and one remains hospitalized.
A Frankford man has been arrested after he allegedly tried to sell homemade sticks of dynamite on Instagram with the purpose of helping people blow up ATMs.
Talib Crump, 26, is accused of telling an undercover agent that he used the explosives Monday night to destroy several ATMs, one of which netted him $8,500 in cash, according to the State Attorney General’s Office. He also allegedly showed the agent how to use the dynamite.
Crump was charged with one count of possession of weapons of mass destruction, one count of risking a catastrophe, one count of criminal use of a communication facility, among other crimes, authorities said.
At least 50 ATMs have been damaged by explosives since Saturday, according to police.