Moments after Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw began touring a North Philadelphia neighborhood at Broad and Erie on Thursday to visit businesses and speak with residents, a man a few feet away punched a news photographer in the face, in full view of her and Mayor Jim Kenney.
Outlaw ran to the aid of the photographer, intervening along with other officers on the scene. Police swarmed the assailant and took him into custody.
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Outlaw, 43, who took over as the city’s top cop after a similar role in Portland, Ore., has had a fast rise up the ranks during her career. But decades ago, she walked the streets as a patrol officer in her hometown in Oakland. Calif.
After the incident Thursday, she and other officers talked briefly with the photographer, who was knocked to the ground and suffered a bloodied face, before he was taken to a hospital and treated for injuries.
The commissioner said the attack illustrated the volatility still present on the city’s streets this week. Unexpected bursts of violence, she said, further heighten the fear and anxiety many are living with.
“You can predict a lot,” Outlaw said. “But that was a perfect example of, you can’t predict everything. That was terrible."
Earlier, Outlaw and Kenney visited several businesses nearby along Germantown Avenue.
“These are our neighbors. These are our folks,” Kenney said. He told residents the neighborhood was in line for unspecified community improvement plans.
Several passersby cheered when they saw Outlaw.
“We love you, Danielle!” yelled one woman from outside Max’s Steaks as Outlaw passed by. “You are a sweetheart, and we love that you’re here in Philadelphia."
After the assault, others on the street denounced the attack, saying they appreciated Outlaw and Kenney’s visit.