8:42 PM - June 16, 2020
8:42 PM - June 16, 2020

Anger, shouting at South Philly demonstration in support of transferred cop

South Philadelphia residents and protesters exchanged harsh words as the statue of Christopher Columbus at Marconi Plaza was enclosed in a box on June 16, 2020 till a decision can be made about its future. A South Philadelphia resident is restrained by police.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
South Philadelphia residents and protesters exchanged harsh words as the statue of Christopher Columbus at Marconi Plaza was enclosed in a box on June 16, 2020 till a decision can be made about its future. A South Philadelphia resident is restrained by police.

Several hours into demonstration in support of a transferred police captain, the scene at Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia grew confrontational at several moments.

Police stood between a small group of counter protesters and the crowd as people shouted.

“I can’t breathe!” a man in an Italia shirt yelled toward the counter protesters, some of whom were black. He later commented, “Today’s about the police, who you can’t stand.”

At one point, three counter protesters kneeled, and the crowd surrounded them, calling them “power rangers.”

One man shouted, “if you don’t like it go back to where you came from!” Two of the people kneeling hugged a young Asian woman as the crowd chanted “nah nah nah nah, hey hey goodbye.”

Meanwhile workers on scaffolding continued to build the wooden box around the Christopher Columbus statue. By 8:30 p.m. only the top of the head was visible.

Many in the crowd seemed to feel counter protesters came to antagonize them. Some grew upset when a young woman started picking up trash. “It’s all a photo op,” one man said.

— Maddie Hanna

7:51 PM - June 16, 2020
7:51 PM - June 16, 2020

Photos: Workers install a box around the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza

7:47 PM - June 16, 2020
7:47 PM - June 16, 2020

Mayor Kenney declares Juneteenth as city holiday

Mayor Kenney addresses the crowd at the Octavius V. Catto Monument at City Hall before The Divine 9 United for Equality & Justice March in Phila., Pa. on June 6, 2020.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Mayor Kenney addresses the crowd at the Octavius V. Catto Monument at City Hall before The Divine 9 United for Equality & Justice March in Phila., Pa. on June 6, 2020.

Mayor Kenney announced Tuesday evening that he will be designating Juneteenth, which is celebrated on June 19 to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States, as an official city holiday. This means that city offices and facilities will be closed on Friday.

Kenney said in a news release he will do this for 2020 with an executive order. For future Juneteenth celebrations, Kenney said his administration would take steps to ensure June 19 will become a city holiday “for years to come.”

The mayor said he consulted with the city’s recently-formed Reconciliation Steering Committee and it overwhelmingly agreed to have Juneteenth become an official city holiday “in order to increase the education of our past and connection with our communities.”

Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite earlier in the day announced that the school district would be closed on Friday to honor Juneteenth.

Kenney said in a statement: "Now more than ever, it’s critically important to acknowledge America’s original sin of slavery—something we as a nation have never atoned for. The only way to dismantle the institutional racism and inequalities that continue to disenfranchise Black Philadelphians is to look critically at how we got here, and make much-needed changes to the governmental systems that allow inequality to persist. This designation of Juneteenth represents our administration’s commitment to reckon with our own role in maintaining racial inequities as well as our understanding of the magnitude of work that lies ahead.”

— Robert Moran

6:12 PM - June 16, 2020
6:12 PM - June 16, 2020

Fate of Columbus monument on Delaware River waterfront now in question

Philadelphia has two monuments to Christopher Columbus, an obelisk at Penn's Landing and a statue in Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia.
David Swanson / Staff photographer
Philadelphia has two monuments to Christopher Columbus, an obelisk at Penn's Landing and a statue in Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia.

The towering Christopher Columbus monument on the Delaware River waterfront — designed by acclaimed architect Robert Venturi and built in 1992 at a cost of more than $1 million — is now being considered for removal, the agency that maintains it announced late Tuesday afternoon.

The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation said in a statement that it will begin a public process to determine the monument's future, and this "may lead to a range of options for the monument, including its removal."

Until that determination is made, "the base of the monument will be covered in an effort to protect public safety, reduce continued pain, and to act as a platform for meaningful engagement."

The nonprofit said it “recognizes that the Columbus monument is a focus of controversy and pain for many people in the Philadelphia region and around the country as it fails to address atrocities committed against indigenous peoples.”

The monument "does not align with DRWC's mission to create and maintain a safe and welcoming space for all."

The nonprofit said it was committed "to listening and moving in a direction that will begin the healing process through robust public engagement."

The monument was built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Columbus voyage in 1492.

The main obelisk is 106-feet tall and is capped with a sphere and weathervane and banner representing the colors of Spain and Italy.

— Robert Moran

5:34 PM - June 16, 2020
5:34 PM - June 16, 2020

Philly school district to be closed for Juneteenth

School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite discusses free meal sites for students during a news conference about the coronavirus at the fire department headquarters in Philadelphia on Saturday, March 14, 2020. The state health department announced Saturday another case of the coronavirus in Philadelphia.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite discusses free meal sites for students during a news conference about the coronavirus at the fire department headquarters in Philadelphia on Saturday, March 14, 2020. The state health department announced Saturday another case of the coronavirus in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite announced on Tuesday that the school district will be closed on Friday to celebrate Juneteenth.

In a letter to district employees, Hite suggested several ways that they would observe the holiday, including as "a day of action to combat racism and racial injustice."

Hite also suggested using the day for “community and remembrance,” and as “an opportunity for learning and reflection,” and as “a day to build and deepen relationships with people who have the most marginalized identities.”

— Robert Moran

5:23 PM - June 16, 2020
5:23 PM - June 16, 2020

Protesters march for cultural fund threatened by budget elimination

Led by a towering unicorn puppet and the West Powelton Drummers, a group of around 100 spirited protesters marched from the Art Museum steps to City Hall, dancing and grooving while calling for Philadelphia to defund its police department and invest in the city’s cultural fund.

The $3 million fund — eliminated in Mayor Jim Kenney’s 2021 revised budget — supports organizations in virtually every neighborhood of the city. Most of them are modest and community-focused.

In between performances by artists supported by community arts funding, Michelle Currica, who worked for the PCF for years, spoke to the group about the importance of the city’s investment.

“The cultural fund is a longstanding commitment to the arts, and it’s for the people, by the people, and delivered through the power of the people,” she said. “We can survive cuts. But elimination? Absolutely not. If the cultural fund was cut, it could not come back as it was.” She added: “We need everybody here to speak up.”

When the group made its way to Love Park, speakers encouraged the protest to tweet at Kenney and City Council President Darrell Clarke, urging them to “fund black futures” by reinstating the arts budget.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

4:51 PM - June 16, 2020
4:51 PM - June 16, 2020

Columbus statue supporters rally in South Philly for transferred police captain

A large crowd of supporters of a transferred police captain have assembled at Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia, with a smaller group of protesters nearby.

The supporters of Capt. Louis Campione, who was abruptly transferred from the First District amid heated confrontations over the Christopher Columbus statue at the park, waved signs with photos of the former commanding officer and messages such as “We love you Cap Lou.”

A parked car played Frankie Valli the hits “Grease” and “Sherry.” Some supporters brought Italian flags and wore “Make America Great Again” Trump campaign hats.

There was a formidable police presence and metal barricades surrounding the statue.

Among the people holding signs with Campione’s picture was Debbie Lombardi, who said she came out to support the police captain and thought the reassignment was “unfair.”

Lombardi, a 62-year resident of South Philadelphia, said she met Campione at a town hall in October and said he was “always supporting the community.”

Carla Carpenter, 66, who lives nearby, said Campione was known in the community for keeping an eye on crime and making sure officers patrolled the streets. “He knows the neighborhood, and that means a lot,” she said. She said she felt his transfer was political.

— Allison Steele and Maddie Hanna

4:36 PM - June 16, 2020
4:36 PM - June 16, 2020

Workers commemorate Justice for Janitors Day in Center City

James Barbour, a janitor in a Center City office building, gathers with other members of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ for a brief demonstration outside One Liberty Place in Center City Philadelphia on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Union members called for officials to enhance labor conditions for essential workers such as janitors and security guards, many of whom are black and Latino, as well as to solve racial disparities in policing.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
James Barbour, a janitor in a Center City office building, gathers with other members of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ for a brief demonstration outside One Liberty Place in Center City Philadelphia on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Union members called for officials to enhance labor conditions for essential workers such as janitors and security guards, many of whom are black and Latino, as well as to solve racial disparities in policing.

Around 30 32BJ SEIU commercial office cleaners, security officers, and airport workers gathered Tuesday afternoon outside One Liberty Place to commemorate Justice for Janitors Day, and specifically highlight the plight of essential workers of color.

Justice for Janitor’s Day, officially founded June 15, 1990, will be celebrated the entire week, ending on Juneteenth, with protests spanning across 30 cities, in light of COVID-19 and its disproportionate effects on essential workers of color.

The union chose not to hold a large march or rally as it usually would in order to follow COVID-19 public health guidelines, and instead stood socially distanced on Market Street holding Black Lives Matter posters.

“Black and brown bodies are the ones who are cleaning these buildings every single day. Today, especially with the racial injustice that is happening in this country, we are all in this together,” said SEIU 32BJ Mid-Atlantic District Director Daisy Cruz.

Cruz stressed the importance of fighting for all essential workers, not only union members, to receive hazard pay and layoff protection during COVID-19.

“We are facing double jeopardy,” said Michael Brown, a security officer and 32BJ member, referring to the risks to workers and their families involved with cleaning buildings, while at the same time not receiving adequate PPE.

Brown spoke of the added danger of police brutality, adding that a disproportionate number of security officers are people of color. “When we take our uniforms off to go home, we’re just as liable to get tackled by the police. And that’s not right,” he said.

Chants of “32BJ” broke out as Brown finished his speech expressing his gratitude for the union.

“Thank you for supporting me, thank you for standing around me, and thanking you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you guys,” he said.

— Hadriana Lowenkron

3:39 PM - June 16, 2020
3:39 PM - June 16, 2020

Philly Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw was the subject of racist threats, U.S. Attorney says

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw speaks during a news conference in May.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw speaks during a news conference in May.

A 39-year-old Massachussets man has been charged with sending “racist, offensive, and threatening” emails to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw earlier this month, federal authorities announced Tuesday.

Peter Fratus, 39, of West Dennis, Mass., sent two emails to Outlaw on June 6 with “vile and disturbing” language, one of which asked where Outlaw lived, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said.

"We take such threats very seriously, and let this be a warning to anyone who might feel the urge to fire off an online threat directed at a public official: we will trace your digital footprint, track you down and hold you accountable,” McSwain said in a statement.

Fratus made an initial appearance in district court in Massachusetts before he was to be transferred to Pennsylvania, federal officials said.

— Chris Palmer

3:02 PM - June 16, 2020
3:02 PM - June 16, 2020

Quiet afternoon as city workers box up Christopher Columbus statue in South Philly

A worker takes a measurement as they prepare to box the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 16, 2020.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
A worker takes a measurement as they prepare to box the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 16, 2020.

As city workers measured and sawed pieces of wood to surround the statue of Christopher Columbus in South Philadelphia, about 30 people hung around, many members of the same crew that has been at Marconi Plaza since Saturday.

On Monday, Mayor Jim Kenney announced the city would install a “boxing apparatus” to “preserve” the statue while the city decides what to do with it. Some folks who want the statue to remain in place said they were glad the city is protecting it.

“They should have boxed it up the first day, diffuse the situation,” said Carlo Morelli, 51, of South Philadelphia. “Let the process play out, and have the debate.”

Mary Lorenzo, 85, added: “I’d rather see it come down peacefully.”

Workers prepare to box the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 16, 2020.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Workers prepare to box the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 16, 2020.

The Columbus statue near Broad Street and Oregon Avenue has attracted crowds for the past four days as the nation grapples with how to handle monuments to controversial figures. While some see Columbus as an explorer who discovered America, historians say there’s little evidence he ever set foot in mainland North America and rather visited the Caribbean, where he directed the enslavement and killing of thousands of Indigenous people.

“I’m not defending Columbus, I’m defending myself,” said a man who would identify himself only as “Ray from Shunk Street.” “Don’t come into our neighborhood and start tearing stuff down.”

No one appeared Tuesday morning to tear down the statue of Columbus, though a brief confrontation took place when some men standing around the statue approached two black men also on the sidewalk, one of whom was talking about why seeing the statue of Columbus is hurtful as a person of color.

A handful of police broke up the argument, and it fizzled out. The rest of the morning and early afternoon were marked mostly by supporters and detractors driving by, either honking and cheering or yelling “take it down!”

A demonstration is planned to take place near the statue at 4:30 p.m. in support of Capt. Louis Campione, the commanding officer of the police district that includes Marconi Plaza, who was transferred on Monday. Some have said police stood by as supporters of the statue, who at times carried weapons, became violent and hostile.

— Anna Orso

2:23 PM - June 16, 2020
2:23 PM - June 16, 2020

A Philly court supervisor was fired after ripping down Black Lives Matter signs. They’re back on display.

More signs hang on the fence of Columbus Square park in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 16, 2020.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
More signs hang on the fence of Columbus Square park in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 16, 2020.

A day after former Philadelphia Family Court supervisor Michael Henkel was fired for ripping down Black Lives Matter signs, a fence in Columbus Square park was covered Tuesday with messages in support of racial equality and calls to defund the police.

“Stop taking down peaceful signs, they aren’t hurting you,” one sign featuring a peace symbol read.

A sign hangs on the fence of Columbus Square park in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 16, 2020.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
A sign hangs on the fence of Columbus Square park in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 16, 2020.
Isaiah Martin stopped by to read the signs as they hang on the fence of Columbus Square park in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 16, 2020.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Isaiah Martin stopped by to read the signs as they hang on the fence of Columbus Square park in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 16, 2020.

Henkel, 61, was captured on video tearing down Black Lives Matter signs and shouting obscenities as people questioned his actions. The 34-second video was shared widely on social media.

In the video, after a woman is heard yelling out to him, “Black lives matter,” Henkel responds, “Not to me they don’t.”

— David Maialetti

2:15 PM - June 16, 2020
2:15 PM - June 16, 2020

Protesters want city to take money from police to restore local culture fund cut in Kenney’s budget

Around 100 protesters at the Philadelphia Art Museum gathered in support of taking some money from the city’s police budget and using it to support the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, which was eliminated in Mayor Jim Kenney’s revised 2021 budget proposal.

“Art is essential,” the crowd chanted.

The fund supports organizations in virtually every neighborhood of the city — most of them modest and community-focused. The vast majority of the 349 organizations that received money from the fund in 2020 fiscal year were small, their audiences mostly neighborhood audiences who often see themselves reflected on the stages or in the galleries.

“Are you mad as hell?” drummer Karen Smith asked the crowd. “Find your heart and hit it, keep it going.”

“Enough,” the crowd repeated.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

12:50 PM - June 16, 2020
12:50 PM - June 16, 2020

Body bags outside City Hall as part of protest for affordable housing

Around 50 people gathered around the Octavius Catto statue in front of City Hall Tuesday, protesting the $120 million increase in funding to the police over Mayor Jim Kenney’s tenure, while at the same time cutting funds meant for housing, education, and other community needs.

Corpses in black garbage bags were spread on the ground to represent lives lost due to lack of housing, improper care in nursing homes, and COVID-19.

Jamaal Henderson of Act Up Philadelphia said if the city were to defund the police by just one-fifth of their budget, other social issues currently affected by the city’s budget shortfall including the incarceration of black and brown people, homelessness and lack of resources for sanitation workers could be addressed.

“[Defunding the police] means you can be a black man, actually be a citizen, and not have to worry whether or not your life is at risk,” Henderson said.

After a moment of silence during which organizers called out the names of black people killed at the hands of police, organizers and the crowd of protesters concluded the demonstration by chanting: “affordable, accessible, integrated housing.”

— Hadriana Lowenkron and Oona Goodin-Smith

12:30 PM - June 16, 2020
12:30 PM - June 16, 2020

Trump signs executive order on police changes

President Donald Trump speaks during an event on police reform in the Rose Garden on Tuesday.
Evan Vucci / AP
President Donald Trump speaks during an event on police reform in the Rose Garden on Tuesday.

Following weeks of national protests since the death of George Floyd, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at encouraging better police practices and establishing a database to keep track of officers with a history of excessive use of force.

Trump’s executive order establishes a database that tracks police officers who garner complaints about excessive use of force in their records. It also establishes a national credentialing system that would give police departments a financial incentive to adopt best practices.

The Rose Garden announcement comes as Senate Republicans are preparing their own package of policing changes. Democrats have a package as well.

— Associated Press

11:20 AM - June 16, 2020
11:20 AM - June 16, 2020

South Philly police captain transferred following tension over Columbus statue

Sidney Ford (center), who opposed the pro-Columbus supporters, is grabbed by pro-Columbus supporters after taking an American flag and an Italian flag from in front of the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 14, 2020. Ford tried to run away with the flags she but was stopped pro-Columbus supporters before police intervened.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Sidney Ford (center), who opposed the pro-Columbus supporters, is grabbed by pro-Columbus supporters after taking an American flag and an Italian flag from in front of the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 14, 2020. Ford tried to run away with the flags she but was stopped pro-Columbus supporters before police intervened.

The commanding officer of the police district covering a large part of South Philadelphia — including Marconi Plaza, the site of ongoing confrontations between residents over the fate of the Christopher Columbus statue — has been transferred to another assignment, officials said Tuesday.

The Police Department characterized the reassignment of Capt. Louis Campione as “one of several command changes that took place [Monday].” They declined to say what the other changes were.

Mayor Jim Kenney has characterized residents seeking to “protect” the Columbus statue as vigilantes and urged them to leave the plaza. Still, a police spokesperson denied that Campione’s transfer was related to his handling of the three-day scene at Marconi Plaza, during which a few dozen residents proud of the controversial Italian explorer have stood guard around the statue, some holding baseball bats, metal poles, or guns.

“These command changes were not related to any specific incident,” Officer Eric McLaurin said in an email.

During the ongoing conflict, scuffles have broken out between demonstrators and counter-protesters, and police have at times sought to separate members of opposing groups.

The police officer’s union criticized the move, saying that Campione, a 43-year-veteran of the department, was well-respected by police and residents, and calling him “the gold standard” of commanders.

In a statement, the union said: “The Mayor and Police leadership are more concerned with appeasing the anarchist mobs descending upon our city and are less concerned about our citizens, our neighborhoods and the overall public safety of our great city.”

Some residents also planned to protest Tuesday afternoon at Broad Street and Oregon Avenue, describing Campione’s transfer as “a spiteful, vindictive move.”

— Chris Palmer

10:40 AM - June 16, 2020
10:40 AM - June 16, 2020

City workers boxing Christopher Columbus statue while its future is determined

Workers prepare to box the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 16, 2020.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Workers prepare to box the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 16, 2020.

A handful of city workers arrived Tuesday morning at Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia, hauling what appeared to be scaffolding and cutting pieces of wood next to the statue of Christopher Columbus.

On Monday night, Mayor Jim Kenney announced a “boxing apparatus” would be installed to preserve the statue, which has attracted dozens of people over the past several days, some of whom have wielded weapons, who say they are “protecting” the statue as the nation grapples with how to handle monuments to controversial historical figures.

While heralded as an explorer by some, historians say Columbus directed the enslavement and killing of thousands of Indigenous people on several trips to the Caribbean islands and never set foot in mainland North America.

On Tuesday morning, about a dozen people — all of whom appeared to be white — gathered near the statue as five workers placed wood around it to protect it during what Kenney called a "public process” to determine its fate.

“Are they taking it down?” a woman yelled out her car as she drove south on Broad Street. “Nope,” a police officer answered.

The administration says it hasn’t yet decided whether the statue will be removed.

Two weeks ago, in the wake of demonstrations following the killing of George Floyd, Kenney approved the removal of a Center City statue of former mayor Frank Rizzo, whose tenure as police commissioner was marked by unchecked brutality.

— Anna Orso

9:30 AM - June 16, 2020
9:30 AM - June 16, 2020

Over 50 Black Lives Matter protests have taken place in Pa. towns Donald Trump won in 2016.

Protests flared in Philadelphia and other major cities across the country following Floyd’s death. But while images of tens of thousands marching in metropolitan areas captured the most attention, protests also sprouted up in small towns where such demonstrations almost never take hold.

In Pennsylvania, protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement have occurred in at least 61 of the state’s 67 counties, according to a running list kept by the Pennsylvania Capital-Star website and a review of local news stories. More than 50 protests have taken place in towns Trump won four years ago. The list includes Mansfield in Tioga County, Bedford in Bedford County, and Tyrone in Blair County, all of which Trump won in 2016 with more than three times as many votes as Hillary Clinton.

“You’re going to see more contributions being made right now, you’re going to see more candidates coming out, you’re going to see political platforms being changed,” said Daniel Gillion, a University of Pennsylvania political science professor who studies protests. “I think the entire electoral process is starting to change.”

— Andrew Seidman and Jonathan Lai

8:00 AM - June 16, 2020
8:00 AM - June 16, 2020

Kenney tells vigilantes guarding Christopher Columbus statue to ‘stand down’

Residents and protesters face off in Marconi plaza near the Columbus statue, Monday, June 15, 2020
STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Residents and protesters face off in Marconi plaza near the Columbus statue, Monday, June 15, 2020

After a third day of heated confrontations on Monday between critics and supporters — some armed — of a Christopher Columbus statue in South Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney is telling vigilantes surrounding the monument to stand down.

“I urge all South Philadelphians attempting to protect the statue to stand down and have your voices heard through the public process,” Kenney wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning.

Kenney’s comment comes hours after announcing a “public process” to determine the fate of the controversial statue, which was first erected in 1867 and relocated to its current location in 1982. In recent days, the statue has become a target for protesters due to the famed explorer’s often-overlooked role launching the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1494.

“Surely, the totality of this history must be accounted for when considering whether to maintain a monument to this person,” Kenney said in a statement.

Today the city will place a “boxing apparatus” around the statue “in order to preserve it while the Art Commission process is followed,” according to the mayor’s office.

— Rob Tornoe

7:40 AM - June 16, 2020
7:40 AM - June 16, 2020

More protests planned in and around Philly on Tuesday

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, center and Sheriff Rochelle Bilal, right, honors George Floyd with 8 minutes 46 seconds of silence kneeling at the Myers Recreation Center in Southwest Philadelphia, Monday, June 15, 2020
STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, center and Sheriff Rochelle Bilal, right, honors George Floyd with 8 minutes 46 seconds of silence kneeling at the Myers Recreation Center in Southwest Philadelphia, Monday, June 15, 2020

On what will be the 18th-straight day of protests in and around Philadelphia, a couple of demonstrations are planned Tuesday. They include:

— Rob Tornoe

7:30 AM - June 16, 2020
7:30 AM - June 16, 2020

Wawa examining uniform policy after ex-employee told to take off Black Lives Matter mask

Andre Lynch III, 20, said he wore this Black Lives Matter mask to work at Wawa in Mount Laurel. On Friday, he was told to take it off or leave the store, so he quit.
Courtesy Andre Lynch Jr.
Andre Lynch III, 20, said he wore this Black Lives Matter mask to work at Wawa in Mount Laurel. On Friday, he was told to take it off or leave the store, so he quit.

Wawa will examine its uniform policy after a former employee said he was prohibited from wearing a Black Lives Matter mask at a South Jersey store.

Andre Lynch III arrived at the Wawa on Route 38 in Mount Laurel at 5:30 a.m. Friday wearing the same mask he said he’d worn to work several times since the killing of George Floyd.

Inscribed on the mask are “Black Lives Matter,” “I can’t breathe,” and “Say his name.” The messages honor the memory of Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed after white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Two hours into his shift, Lynch said, his manager told him he had to change into a plain mask or leave. So, the 20-year-old said, he quit.

“Wawa believes black lives matter,” a Wawa spokesperson said, “and it’s why we have posted signage sharing this message in our stores. Additionally, we have been working on ways through our diversity and inclusion efforts to enhance our uniform standards to enable our associates to express their support.”

This week, the company will provide employees with pins to show support for Black Lives Matter “within uniform guidelines, if they choose to,” she said.

Lynch, however, said a small, company-provided pin won’t amplify the voices of people of color.

“It’s like you’re trying to tell somebody, ‘Just shut up,’” he said.

Lynch said a Wawa executive called him Sunday, apologized for what happened, and told him about the pins the company planned to give employees. Lynch said he was offered his job back, but he still wouldn’t be able to wear any masks or clothing that showed support for Black Lives Matter.

— Erin McCarthy

7:15 AM - June 16, 2020
7:15 AM - June 16, 2020

So far, protests in Philly haven’t led to a spike in coronavirus cases

Protesters gather for a march calling to defund the police at Broad and Callowhill Streets in Philadelphia on Saturday, June 13, 2020.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Protesters gather for a march calling to defund the police at Broad and Callowhill Streets in Philadelphia on Saturday, June 13, 2020.

Two weeks after protests in Philadelphia drew crowds of thousands and led to clashes with police, data maintained by the city indicate the large gatherings haven’t caused a spike in COVID-19 cases so far.

“We can’t guarantee there’s not going to be a later rise,” said city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, “but it’s a good sign we haven’t seen it yet.”

Farley and other health experts said that since the protests were outdoors and many people wore masks, a surge might not result.

Minneapolis, where George Floyd’s death under the knee of a police officer sparked international protests, also has avoided a spike related to demonstrations so far.

“I do think it bodes well for outdoor activities where people are wearing masks,” Farley said. “I’d worry far more about indoor activities, and activities where people are not wearing a mask and are much closer to each other.”

— Jason Laughlin and Katie Park

7:00 AM - June 16, 2020
7:00 AM - June 16, 2020

Front page of today’s Inquirer

Front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer for Tuesday, June 16, 2020.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer for Tuesday, June 16, 2020.