Police allowed Fishtown mob to threaten neighbors who want answers

Listen 15:49
White bat-wielding men in Fishtown

White bat-wielding men in Fishtown, who said they were there to protect police, assaulted at least three people during a protest on Monday. (Screenshot via Twitter)

Philadelphians are demanding answers after police appeared to allow a group of mostly white men, many carrying baseball bats, gather in Fishtown after curfew Monday night. At least three people, including a WHYY producer, say they were assaulted by members of the group, who said they were protecting the police — yet none were arrested.

Residents want to know why police are treating this vigilante mob and Justice for George Floyd protesters differently. WHYY’s Aaron Moselle breaks down how the night unfolded and what the police department says it’s doing about it.

Hear the whole story on The Why

Interview highlights

Fishtown resident Katherine Sholle on the police response to her 911 call about the group

All these people were like, joking with the cops and people were high-fiving the cops. When I called the dispatcher, she said, “They’re protecting the neighborhood and the police. They’re not going to hurt you. Don’t worry about it.”

Aaron Moselle on why police allowed the group to be out past curfew

We don’t know. That is what everybody, all the neighbors, media has consistently asked. I’ve asked … why was this allowed to continue? Eventually, at a point in the evening, we did see a whole lot of police come in, so, I mean, they [the men] were dispersed at one time. I want to be clear about that. But there was a delay. And even Mayor [Jim] Kenney himself said that was a mistake. And so on the police side of things, they have launched an internal affairs investigation into what happened … We have heard from Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw on this pretty loudly, and while these guys said they were there to protect police, she says … we do not condone what she referred to as “vigilante justice.”

Aaron Moselle on other vigilante groups popping up in Philly

On Monday and Tuesday, there are reports of there being a group of, again, mostly white guys gathering around this shopping plaza on Aramingo Avenue … And there are there are photos circulating on social media of guys on on the rooftop of both a GameStop and this this wing restaurant with guns, with large guns. There was also in South Philly some neighbors that gathered in front of a Target down there … with the idea of of thwarting people who wanted to come in and loot. So we are seeing this behavior crop up this week, this kind of vigilante behavior. And there are some real questions about what the Philadelphia Police Department is going to do about it.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal