PHILADELPHIA – City officials today provided the following updates in response to the violence Saturday evening in Center City.
Road Closures: In order to facilitate the cleanup and further emergency responses if needed, the City has closed all streets in Center City. The closure area runs from Vine Street to South Street, from the Delaware River to the Schuylkill River. The closure took effect at noon today, Sunday, May 31st and continues until further notice. SEPTA bus access will also be restricted. Residents and business operators within Center City will be permitted access. (Map of closure area is included below).
Curfew: The mandatory, citywide curfew will again be in effect this evening, starting at 6 p.m. and continuing through 6 a.m. tomorrow, Monday, June 1, 2020. Only persons with essential duties will be permitted outdoors during the curfew hours.
Mayor’s Comments: Mayor Jim Kenney offered the following comments today regarding Saturday’s protests and ensuing violence:
The destruction we saw last night in Center City saddened and disappointed me beyond words.
I’m sure it saddened every Philadelphian who takes pride in our city—especially the thousands of Philadelphians who came out earlier in the day yesterday to peacefully yet forcefully protest.
They made a tremendous statement about their decades of anger over a system that degrades Black Americans because of the color of their skin.
That statement was important. And it in no way should be diminished by other organized groups of people who tried to cause chaos in our city.
Those vandals in Center City did a great disservice to the many others who chose to speak out forcefully against institutional racism and violence at the hands of police.
In looting downtown, these individuals not only desecrated private businesses, they also desecrated the important message that was heard in the earlier, peaceful protests.
Because the people throughout this country who want to see a continuation of systemic racism, including in the White House, will use the damage, violence, and looting to perpetuate their sick hatred.
None of this, of course, has been helped by more than two months of battling a pandemic.
We have been quite vocal all along about the mental health effects of staying at home, of social distancing, and of the devastating economic impact — with jobs lost and futures uncertain.
Today is the final day of Mental Health Awareness Month, but it does not bring to a close the emotional strains brought on by the pandemic.
And for many, the shocking sight of the murder of George Floyd — pleading to be allowed to breathe — added to the two months of built-up tensions.
We have reminded everyone not to wait — to get help, which you can do at mindphltogether.com.
So where does this leave us?
I toured the damaged blocks of downtown this morning, and despite my deep sadness, what I saw gave me hope.
Residents turned out — on their own — to help clean up.
They devoted their time and energy on a Sunday morning to restoring their city.
And I ask every Philadelphian today to do their part — of course while wearing a mask and keeping socially distant.
You can do your part today in simple ways — find something that demonstrates your pride and love in Philadelphia.
You can make a statement that counters the images of destruction we saw last night.
But even when those blocks are cleaned up, when these businesses are restored, I understand that the larger issues that fueled yesterday’s events remain.
What we saw both in yesterday’s peaceful protests and the more violent destruction — not just in Philadelphia but in many other cities — was born of decades of systemic racism and the resulting poverty.
Poverty and racism: these are twin factors that work hand-in-hand to fuel anger and hopelessness and violence.
And when sparked by the murders of unarmed black people, that anger and hopelessness spilled out into the streets of Philadelphia and in cities across the nation.
So remember that after the damage is cleaned up, we are left with solving the greatest challenge — building a truly just society. For every single person who lives in it.