A friend of mine who works in another city department forwarded this to me. It’s an email from Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney regarding the George Floyd riots. I believe it gives outsiders a view into the mayor’s (and the city’s) worldview.
Black communities across the country and right here at home are in pain. I recognize that years of trauma and violence, caused by a long history of institutional racism, have led to this moment. Know that I believe in the cause of the protesters, and I stand behind them 100 percent.
I appreciate the work you are doing during an incredibly challenging time on several fronts—a pandemic, the most difficult budget situation in recent history, and the shared grief we’re facing now.
Nearly half of our diverse workforce are Black Philadelphians; we know that they and many other members of our City government family are personally affected by what’s happening on our streets. Know this: I am thinking of you and fighting for you. Our administration will work hard to dismantle our broken system and rebuild one that works for all Philadelphians.
A symbol of that work happened today. Overnight, we removed the statue of Frank Rizzo from the front of the Municipal Services Building. The statue has understandably enraged and hurt many Philadelphians, including those protesting the heinous murders of George Floyd and too many others.
The removal is a small step. We now need to do the hard but critical work of engaging in dialogue and making real changes that forge a path that leads to true equity for all residents. I am committed to doing this work in the pursuit of racial and economic justice so that our communities can heal and all residents can prosper in our great city.
Unfortunately, the last few days have also resulted in devastation and destruction of many commercial corridors throughout the city, so many of which are also in communities of color. These businesses and communities will need rebuilding even as we work on the deeper issues that led us to this place.
Over the next days, weeks, and months I will be engaging in dialogue with community members to help address injustices and build a more equitable city. It’s up to us as public servants to represent our city and set an example for our neighbors—both in today’s uncertain times and in the future as we recover together.
We will get through this and make real change together.
Yours in service,