‘This is a parental issue’: Philly police respond to ‘disorderly’ juveniles in Center City

Five people were arrested and a Philadelphia police officer suffered a significant knee injury when police say a disorderly crowd of juveniles gathered in Center City, Philadelphia Wednesday night. 

Philadelphia Police Inspector Ray Evers says the busy night began around 6 p.m. when officers from the Center City district noticed an influx of juveniles on Market Street, in the area of the Fashion District. 

Around 7 p.m. officers chased a 13-year-old boy they say was seen with a gun. Upon catching up with the teen, Inspector Evers says officers discovered the gun was an airsoft gun. 

Shortly after that incident, officers say they noticed a continued influx of juveniles around 7:30 p.m. in the area of the 900 and 1100 blocks of Market Street. 

Inspector Evers estimated about 350 to 400 juveniles were in the area at the time.

"These kids were not orderly, they were not going to the mall, they were not going to the movie theater and they were not there to enjoy their friends," Inspector Evers stated Thursday afternoon during a press conference. He later confirmed reports that some juveniles were throwing rocks, jumping on police cars, and climbing light poles. 

Evers says police called for more support and began asking juveniles to leave the area, encouraging them to get ‘back on SEPTA’ and go back home. He went on to note that of the five arrests made, none of those individuals were from Center City.

Police say it took until about 9 p.m. to clear the area, and that four disorderly conduct arrests were made in that time. The fifth person arrested matched the description of a suspect in a robbery that occurred at 2nd and Chestnut Streets on Tuesday night, according to police.

Those arrested for disorder conduct included a 13-year-old girl, 13-year-old boy, 15-year-old boy, and a 17-year-old boy. 

Inspector Evers added that the 13-year-old girl was in the back of a police car while an officer was preparing paperwork for a disorderly conduct arrest. While she was in the car, Evers says another juvenile tried to free the suspect from the back of the police vehicle. 

An officer gave chase to those who attempted to free the teen, and ‘blew out his knee." Evers says the officer will require a full knee reconstruction and be off the job for several months, if not longer. 

"Our belief is that these juveniles were not down here to go movies or go to the mall and have fun. They were here to be disorderly, and we have to handle that as we see it," Evers added. 

During Thursday’s press conference, Inspector Evers made several mentions of parents. 

"This is a parental issue," Evers began. "This is not a police issue, this is not a city issue. The parents should be watching their kids, what they’re doing." 

Evers added that similar behavior would not be tolerated in the future. 

"We’re going to have very, very little tolerance if your kids come to Center City and act a fool. You will be arrested, and we’ll make sure that you go in front of juvenile judges to make sure you get the proper treatment that you need. This is not a playground."  

The Fashion District briefly closed due to a fight inside on Thursday evening. Officers stood outside the entrances and turn away prospective shoppers and allowed others in as police investigated.

"There was a ruckus going on in there today where they shut the gates down and wouldn't let anybody come in or leave out of the store," said Denise Butler who was shopping with her three young daughters. 

In a statement, Fashion District General Manager said the mall has been working on its security plan, including a change that would require shoppers under 18 to be with an adult after 2 p.m.