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Guest Commentary: Where are you, Mr. Mayor?

A Philadelphian wanted answers to why—after so many days of violent protests across the country—the City was unprepared for the looting. So he wrote to Mayor Kenney.

A Philadelphian wanted answers to why—after so many days of violent protests across the country—the City was unprepared for the looting. So he wrote to Mayor Kenney.

Dear Mayor Kenney,

As a resident of this great city, I do hope you will address the responsible public regarding the lack of preparedness for the riots that occurred the last few days. I have been watching live coverage of Minneapolis for days, and that city showed a lack of preparedness.

Do SomethingThe message sent by Minneapolis, in my opinion, was that it’s okay to loot and set fires because it’s just “brick and mortar”, as Mayor Frey stated, but stated poorly. That poor man was shell-shocked by the destruction in his city. He clearly was not equipped to handle the unrest. The lack of police and National Guard presence sent the wrong messages to Minnesota, especially on Friday night.

Mayor Kenney, you had ample time to assess the events all around the country and to prepare with Commissioner Outlaw for possible riots in Philadelphia. You had ample time to alert businesses in Center City to prepare for possible riots, especially since the weekend is here. You have failed to take the necessary precautions.

You are fortunate that most of Center City wasn’t burned down. You know that could have happened while the police were outnumbered and trying to protect MSB and City Hall. If that happened, then what would you say? How would you have justified that?

As a resident, I would like to know why it appears the police around the country are acting so PC that they let the vandalism take place? As you were on TV, pleading for peace, it was ironic given that the rioters could not hear you and were setting fires on live TV and looting on live TV while you and other leaders were saying you would not tolerate that. It gives the impression that you are out of touch. Why did you choose not to broadcast your news conference through police megaphones or other means to try to get the attention of rioters?

Why are rubber bullets not being used? Why are water cannons not being used? Why were tear gas and smoke bombs not being used? Why did you not call in other security forces in preparation for the weekend?

My hope is that you will stand strong on TV and tell the people who did this that now that fire occurred there is now a zero-tolerance policy in this City for destruction. I also wonder why you and the commissioner did not announce that these riots were “unlawful gatherings” which would allow the police to take more action? I saw on TV that New York and L.A. were announcing these statements on megaphones with lawyers at their sides—marching together—so that the unruly got the message that unruly crowds would be dispersed and dispersed with justified force.

Mayor Kenney, any rational person watching the country’s news and following current events knows that Philadelphia would not be immune from the riots. I appreciate your leadership and wish you continued success.

Please don’t fail this city.

Sent on Saturday May 30, 11:30 pm


Dear Managing Director [Brian] Abernathy,

As a peaceful resident of this city, I am reaching out to you to share the email that I sent to Mayor Kenney last night. What you failed to address is your lack of preparedness for these riots. You had more than enough time to prepare. Was it wishful thinking that this wouldn’t happen in our great city?

You must not only protect the lives of people, but you must also protect the businesses that operate in this city. It’s a poor excuse that you were outnumbered. You had five full days to prepare for what has swept the nation. That is what none of our elected officials are addressing right now. There is no excuse.

Some of these businesses will never reopen, owners have lost their dreams, and employees are now out of work and without income for a longer period after Covid restrictions are eased.

Our great city has now been set back farther as the lack of response is now evident. I continue to support your efforts, but you and Mayor Kenney owe the peaceful, taxpaying residents of this City a valid response as to why the National Guard wasn’t on call and ready by Friday.

I support the peaceful protestors as you do, but these negative events should come as no surprise to you and other city leaders. It’s a shame that you weren’t prepared and didn’t get on TV before Saturday to issue a warning to those who planned to come into this great city to create chaos.

Sent on Sunday May 31, 6:44 pm


Mr. Wilson-

We appreciate your concerns and please know that we took numerous measures to increase the number of officers available and further augmented our police staff with staff from other jurisdictions and the state police. Please remember that while we police these demonstrations, we also have to police our other neighborhoods.

We’ll continue to work to protect our residents and businesses and lay a foundation for our recovery.

Brian Abernathy
Managing Director

Sent on May 31, 10:09 p.m.


Mr. Abernathy,

With all due respect, you’ve shown how diligent you can be by the way you handle Covid with daily news conferences, yet you’ve shown an utter lack of preparedness for looting and violence. You and the administration have failed and you will have to face the lawful citizens and business leaders of this city and acknowledge the lack of preparedness.

The Northeast is now being looted—Franklin Mills, Grant Avenue, Northeast Shopping Center, etc. We’re a great city, but the bad apples have only one intention here and across the U.S.: Create as much destruction as possible. Our elected officials have failed us in protecting both lives and brick and mortar businesses.

This is the powder keg that stretches coast to coast and it will not get better until bad police get prosecuted and fired.

You should have been on TV on Friday ahead of the weekend, warning looters that Philadelphia stands ready and prepared to shut down any and all violence. This PC culture of tolerating disrespect of people and property cannot be the message that you and other government leaders across the nation send current and future generations during this period of cities under siege. It will only get worse the next time a regular citizen is murdered by a police officer.

This is the powder keg that stretches coast to coast and it will not get better until bad police get prosecuted and fired. The police union is too strong. (I am a member of a union.) The union must face the reality that intolerance of regular citizens, especially minorities, will result in termination. Economic disparities will always exist and a minimum wage that hasn’t been increased in more than 10 years is just one of the problems.

I continue to support you and the administration, but you should not fleece the residents of our city by pulling the “we were outnumbered and we’re surprised” card. You and the administration are fortunate that most of Center City wasn’t burned down. You know that could have happened while the police were outnumbered and trying to protect MSB and City Hall. If that happened, then what would you say? How would you have justified that?

On top of Covid, we’ve lost another source of revenue in our great city, andRead More layoffs are surrounding us. Some of these businesses will never reopen, owners have lost their dreams, and employees are now out of work and without income for a longer period after Covid restrictions are eased. Insurance won’t cover all of it, as your administration casually mentioned insurance on TV today.

I appreciate you taking the time to respond to me during this crisis.

If there is anything that I can do as a citizen, I am here. God bless you, this great city, and the United States.

Sent May 31, 11:06 p.m.

Emails edited and condensed.

Dave Wilson is a longtime resident of Philadelphia.

Photo by K.C. Tinari

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