As the sun set Monday night and looting continued in some of Philly's neighborhoods, groups of people, some armed, stood in front of stores to protect them. In Fishtown, a group of at least a dozen men were seen outside the 26th Police District on Girard Avenue, some with baseball bats.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said at least one assault occurred after a group of residents shouted at the people with bats. Mayor Jim Kenney said the group was seen high-fiving with police officers and taking photos with them, and said it took too long for the group to be broken up.
“Their actions were antagonistic and made a bad situation worse," Kenney said at a news conference Tuesday.
The group were one of several ragtag patrols seen around the city in recent days of unrest. Others were seen out at the Roosevelt Mall and the Target on Mifflin Street in South Philadelphia, though no violence was reported from those groups.
Outlaw said the department was looking into why the Fishtown group was not arrested.
Fishtown resident Andrew Knips told NBC10 he saw a large group of white men, apparently intoxicated, wielding bats, golf clubs and hand axes.
"They were out in force. They were saying really really aggressive disturbing things to people," he said.
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"We’re seeing people getting dispersed with tear gas across the city and that’s not what’s happening with this particular group...this group was openly carrying weapons, openly threatening people," Knips added.
Outlaw said the group did not speak for the department.
“I would not describe that group as someone that I would want speaking for me, or speaking on behalf of my police department," she said. "I am not a proponent, we are not proponents of intimidation and fear, for the purposes of being bullies.”
In an appearance on MSNBC, City Council President Darrell Clarke urged calm.
"Everybody needs to take a step back," he said. "The anger, the frustration, is rising on both sides. Don’t play into the hands of individuals who want to divide us."
Kenney said if the group returned, there would be no delay in ordering them to disperse.
“If you want to stand up for your neighborhood, you want to help our police force, we welcome that," Kenney said. "So long as you do so in a peaceful, nonthreatening and nonconfrontational way.”