The Philadelphia District Attorney has charged a man for assaulting a photographer Tuesday night at Marconi Plaza.
DA Larry Krasner says John Mooney has been charged with punching photographer Mel Cole in the face and using a racial slur against Cole, who is Black.
Mooney was among a group of men standing in the park, some with baseball bats, near the boarded-up statue of Christopher Columbus. The city also announced Wednesday that it will remove the statue.
The assault was captured on video and posted on social media. Krasner says Mooney is also charged with ethnic intimidation and harassment.
“Before he punched a journalistic photographer, who is an African American man, he four different times said words to the effect of ‘get out of here boy’” Krasner said of Mooney.
Cole responded on instagram saying the Philadelphia District attorney “did the right thing. Now let’s keep it going. Hold this man accountable! Hold the Philly PD accountable!”
WARNING: Graphic language and content:
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I was sucker punched in the jaw by a racist white man while documenting a protest in South Philly at Maroni Plaza, where a Columbus statue stands. Photos and videos from some of the South Philly locals coming soon. Update: I’m fine. His lil punch was as weak as he seems. I’m pressing chargers. I will not let him get away with it. SHARE SHARE SHARE! #philly #phillyprotest #christophercolumbus #statue #racist #blacklivesmatter #blm #philadelphia #southphilly #phillycops #philadelphia #phillypd #phillies #eagles
Earlier this month, a reporter from an online publication was threatened, shoved and had his bike tires slashed while covering other confrontations in Marconi Plaza. Supporters of the Columbus statue had gathered to ensure it was not torn down as has happened in other cities. The city boarded up the statue to protect it while it decided its future.
Krasner says he wants to send a message with these charges.
“Leave your baseball bats at home unless you are playing baseball. Leave your racism at home and maybe think about undoing it. Leave your violence at home,” he said. “We can have disagreements without hurting people, and if you are going to hurt people you aren’t going to be protected by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.”
The DA says now is the time to change what he calls acceptance of Frank Rizzo-era policies, referring to the controversial former mayor and police commissioner.
“It’s time for all of our elected officials, it’s time for our police department with the new and progressive leadership, it’s time for everyone in a position of power to use that power so that we can once and for all end the Rizzo era, we can have a sea change,” Krasner said.
Rizzo’s statue in front of the Municipal Services Building was a rallying point for protesters until Mayor Jim Kenney had it removed earlier this month. Rizzo became a symbol of police brutality due to his policies and rhetoric as mayor and police commissioner.
“Frank Rizzo is a man who more than anything stood for a combination of brutality and racism. That is his legacy to the city of Philadelphia. Frank Rizzo’s statue was removed because he’s in fact the city’s confederate general. Should have been removed a long time ago but I’m happy it finally was. We’re at a historic moment, there is a sea change going on. The influence of Frank and that attitude has certainly reduced over the years,” Krasner said.