Mark Squilla, South Philly/Kensington, Councilmember District 1
Editor’s note: The responses have been lightly edited for clarity and conciseness.
What do you think of everything that’s going on in the neighborhood and the city in regards to the following: peaceful protests, damage to businesses, looting, and the police response to protests, damages, or looting?
Peaceful protests are an expression of first Amendment rights, and I support the freedom of speech and the right to assemble. Damaging property and looting to make a statement can sometimes be seen as a voice unheard, but I do not condone or support that behavior, especially if they are in marginal neighborhoods that already struggle. For the most part, the police response showed restraint; they were overwhelmed with the many incidents of looting and vandalism throughout the city. I support the review of questionable actions by police that have come to light. I also support an independent oversight committee for the police department.
What solutions do you hope to see in your community or in general after these protests?
I hope to rebuild the Kensington community with investment in the commercial corridor, social services, outreach and affordable housing. This will lead to healing and community members living together peacefully in Kensington, Philadelphia, and throughout the United States.
In light of current events, what are the issues that you would like the Kenney administration, city council, and the rest of city government to focus on in the upcoming budget to help your community?
Issues that we need to address involve access to good food and jobs, stable affordable housing, education, police reforms, and others.
How would you describe the policing in your community, and what would you like to see in the police department moving forward?
Policing in our communities seems to be reactionary to the situations at hand. I would like to see the police proactively engage the community and listen to concerns, so they can adapt to the specific safety measures needed to prevent criminal activity. We see police involved in community issues, such as homelessness, drug addiction, neighbor relations, and domestic incidents. These may be better addressed by social service agencies working alongside the police. I would also like to see body cameras on every officer, and additional training for both bias and de-escalation.
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Editors: Claire Wolters, Zari Tarazona, Siani Colon / Designer: Henry Savage