Philadelphia, PA – Hundreds of rioters who were issued code violation notices during the month of June have been given a free pass by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.
Code violation notices – commonly referred to as CVNs – are civil citations that include offenses such as curfew violations, defiant trespass, vandalism, disorderly conduct and failure to disperse, the Philly Voice reported.
Philadelphia police arrested over 750 “demonstrators” for such violations between May 30 and June 30, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“My decision to waive these violations is not a statement on the validity of the individual citations,” Kenney said in a statement. “Rather, it is a recognition of the core concerns that caused thousands to demonstrate on the streets of Philadelphia.”
“In waiving these notices, I recognize that those issues are vitally important, that the pain of those marching is very real, and that their message — Black lives matter — needs to be heard every day until systemic racism is fully eradicated from this city and nation,” the mayor added.
Suspects who were issued CVNs between May 30 and June 30 do not need to take any action to ensure their citations are dismissed, the Philly Voice reported.
Suspects who have already paid their CVN fines have been encouraged to call the Office of Administrative Review for a refund.
Rioters arrested on criminal charges – such as burglary and looting – will still be prosecuted, the Philly Voice reported.
The City will waive all protest-related code violation notices (CVNs) issued May 30-June 30. This includes disorderly conduct, failure to disperse, and curfew violations.
Demonstrators marched to bring awareness to important issues and one vital message: Black lives matter. pic.twitter.com/iQMNe0So4e
— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) July 8, 2020
Philadelphia City Solicitor Marcel Pratt said he backs the mayor’s decision.
“As city officials and employees focus on reform and reconciliation, the city must use its administrative resources consistent with those efforts,” Pratt told the Philly Voice. “We believe that moving forward with these CVNs would have served no useful purpose, and we are glad that the mayor approved our recommendation that they be waived.”
“The past 30 days were just a unique period of time and I think that required a unique solution as well,” Pratt told KYW.
Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President John McNesby denounced Kenney’s decision to coddle the rioters.
“Mayor Kenney and city leaders have again apologized to those who displayed unacceptable and criminal behavior in our great city,” McNesby said, according to WCAU. “It’s sad to see the Mayor and his staff have endorsed outright lawlessness and given up any attempt to hold people accountable for criminal activity. And we question, why our city has a major crime problem?”
Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) attorney Taylor Pacheco said that the CVNs never should have been issued in the first place, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“I think it really does raise a question of whether or not there was any intention to the arrests besides interfering with the protests,” Pacheco said. “As glad as we are to see these dismissed, we maintain that they never should have happened.”
Civil rights attorney Paul Hetznecker said that citing the rioters opened the city up to civil rights lawsuits.
“Whether they want to admit it or not, the civil citations were in violation of the constitutional rights of all of those that participated in peaceful, lawful protest protected by the First Amendment,” Hetznecker told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “This is a vindication of those protections.”
Philadelphia government officials have frequently allowed protesters to do as they please – to include permitting them to block Interstate 676 over the Independence Day weekend.
On June 25, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw apologized to rioters for the “unjustifiable” use of tear gas and other less-lethal weapons during a large demonstration that took place on the Vine Street Expressway on June 1, the Philly Voice reported.
“I humbly apologize to those who were directly impacted, as well as to our communities at large,” Commissioner Outlaw said at the time.