Philly council member wants apology from Camden leader for ‘thugs,’ ‘freaks’ comment

After a Camden official said, "We just want to send a message to the thugs and criminals and gun-bearing freaks over in Philadelphia...," a council member wants an apology.

Camden County Commissioner Louis Cappelli Jr.

Camden County Commissioner Louis Cappelli Jr. (6abc)

This story originally appeared on 6abc.

As Camden County police investigate a Fourth of July shooting that injured a child, a Philadelphia City Council member is taking offense to comments on the shooting.

Cellphone video from a witness watching the fireworks along the Camden Waterfront shows people running for safety.

Police say, about a block away, two groups of people had been arguing and a teenager in one of those groups fired at least one shot.

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A bullet struck a 6-year-old girl in the knee. She was rushed to the hospital and is expected to survive.

Police say they briefly took a teen from Philadelphia into custody for the shooting, but then released him as they continue to gather evidence to make an arrest.

Camden County Commissioner Louis Cappelli Jr., a Democrat, says officials have worked hard to reduce crime in Camden.

According to Cappelli, 80% of the guns confiscated in Camden come from out of state, “usually across the river from Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.”

“We just want to send a message to the thugs and criminals and gun-bearing freaks over in Philadelphia who live in a society of lawlessness – we don’t want you here,” Cappelli said. “Stay out of Camden. Stay out of Camden County. Stay out of New Jersey. Keep your barbaric behavior in Philadelphia.”

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Cappelli is fed up with what he says is a problem.

“So to all you thugs and criminals in Philadelphia thinking that your lawlessness can be spread elsewhere, stay at home. Stay out of Camden County,” Cappelli said.

In a tweet Thursday morning, Cappelli applauded Philadelphia on making changes to combat shootings in the area.

“I commend the City of Philadelphia for taking this step to try and hold gun manufacturers responsible for the health and public safety crisis created by gun violence,” Cappelli tweeted.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson, also a Democrat, took offense to Cappelli’s comments the day before regarding Philadelphia, calling on him to apologize for the remarks.

She released a statement Wednesday saying, “To insinuate that ALL Philadelphians are ‘thugs,’ ‘criminals,’ and ‘freaks’ simply because one of the suspects in a shooting has ‘a tie to Philadelphia’ is completely unacceptable.”

You can read Councilmember Richardson’s full statement below:

“I want to extend my prayers to the six-year-old child that was injured in the Fourth of July shooting in Camden, NJ. As a mother of a six-year-old, my heart is with their entire family, and I am praying for a speedy recovery.

“However, I am extremely appalled by the derogatory statements made earlier today by Camden County Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. A majority of the 1.59 million residents of Philadelphia are self-respecting, law-abiding citizens. To insinuate that ALL Philadelphians are “thugs,” “criminals,” and “freaks” simply because one of the suspects in a shooting has “a tie to Philadelphia” is completely unacceptable.

“Not only were his comments disparaging, but they were asinine and unprincipled for an individual of Mr. Cappelli’s stature. As director of Camden County’s Board of Commissioners, Mr. Cappelli serves as a leader of Camden County’s 37 municipalities. Instead of making disparaging statements, he should work to foster stronger interregional relationships.

“I hope that he swiftly apologizes for his generalized comments and continues to welcome Philadelphians to Camden County as we will continue to work with and welcome Camden County, New Jersey residents who frequent our City on a daily basis with open arms. I am always available to work together if he chooses to do so.”

If you or someone you know has been affected by gun violence in Philadelphia, you can find grief support and resources online.

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