Philly’s Top Officials – Including Mayor Kenney & Police Commissioner Outlaw – Approved Use of Tear Gas During Protests
Philadelphia's Mayor Jim Kennedy and the city's Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw were among a small number of city officials who approved the use of tear gas during a mass protest last week just off of the I-676 highway.
The revelations were made during a City Council meeting held Wednesday afternoon, NBC10 reports.
City Councilwoman Helen Gym questioned the incident, which appeared to leave a large group of protestors trapped in the embankment off the highway on the afternoon of Monday, June 1. That was the third day of protests in Philadelphia following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
"Who explicitly was involved in the approval of the tear gas during the incident on (Interstate) 676?" the councilwoman asked.
"Overall, the Unified Command group did approve the use of less-lethal munitions within policy," the city's Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw responded.
As for the incident itself, Outlaw says it was up to the commander on the ground to make the final call.
"It was left to the commander on ground to make the determination as it was deemed necessary," Outlaw says.
"Several after-action reports" are being generated as the city revisits its response to the recent protests, according to the Police Commissioner.
It was revealed during the meeting that the other members of the Unified Command Group included the city's Managing Director Brian Abernathy, the city's Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel, Mayor Kenney's chief of staff Jim Engler, the Deputy Managing Director Tumar Alexander, and City Solicitor Marcel Pratt.
The tear gas was fired about an hour before the city's 6 pm curfew went into effect. The protest did, however, appear to bring traffic on the highway to a standstill during the evening rush.
Eyewitnesses said the marching crowd was largely peaceful when the officers launched the tear gas:
It sent "the protesters scrambling up the banks on both sides of the highway as gas filled the air," The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Videos of the incident showed the melee that ensued as the group tried to escape.
The day after the incident a state police spokesperson, Ryan Tarkowski, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the decision to use tear gas was made "after protesters who had descended onto the expressway 'ignored orders to leave the road,' 'began to throw objects' at police, and did not disperse after troopers deployed smoke devices."