PHILADELPHIA (WTXF/AP) - Philadelphia police Chief Inspector Dennis Wilson spoke live to Good Day Philadelphia about the anti-Trump protests and traffic tie-ups that have been happening for the past five nights, and also the flash mob attack in Center City over the weekend.
Six people, including an off-duty police detective and his wife, were injured in the chaos by a crowd of young people at around 16th and Walnut streets, at about 6pm Saturday.
Wilson said there were about 50 kids out on that busy street and unlike other incidents, this was not publicized on Twitter or other social media.
Instead, this group had been rowdy and got kicked out of a private social club event in the 1700 block of Walnut.
Outside, they immediately began causing trouble, randomly assaulting people. Acting up right away made it hard for police to get ahead of them.
A 55-year-old off-duty police detective saw people being assaulted. He was punched from behind by several people when he tried to arrest one of the offenders. His wife even splashed water on the offenders to try to stop them from attacking her husband, and she was punched in the face.
In all, six people were injured. The police detective had an orbital fracture to his right eye while the others had minor injuries.
Two teenagers were arrested and police will be watching video and bringing witnesses in to put all the facts together and catch more.
He added, kids do squeal, and there were lots of people around who weren’t there to cause trouble.
Wilson said police are constantly monitoring social media for large gatherings and protests, and have good relationships with community groups and schools.
He also discussed the anti-Trump protests that have been going on in Philadelphia for five nights so far and more expected.
Wilson explained it’s a tough balance allowing the protests on the streets while drivers are being kept from their destinations.
He said officers on bicycles and the traffic unit try to protect the protesters. They do try to get ahead of the protest and divert traffic around them, since it’s hard to keep so many people on the sidewalk.
For now, there’s no limit on the number of protests, and they’ll keep trying to protect the group.
Ultimately, it’s Police Commissioner Richard Ross who allows the protests on streets and thinks his department has done well with such a large group.
Wilson did say Philadelphia has had a lot of protests, most recently at the Democratic National Convention and for Black Lives Matter, so “This isn’t that unusual for us.”