“I humbly apologize”: Philadelphia officials announce changes after protest

[screaming and shouting] Trapped on the side of a highway in downtown Philadelphia, surrounded by tear gas. This is how the police ended a protest against racism and police violence that began peacefully minutes later. “There is a pandemonium. There are screams, there are screams. I realize I have to get off this hill. I can’t breathe at all. [coughing and screaming] Protests have spread across the United States after George Floyd was killed while in police custody. And in some cases, instead of scaling down, officers responded forcefully, in violation of their own guidelines on crowd control and the use of non-lethal weapons. That was the case at the Philadelphia protest, which was documented from all angles by protesters, journalists, and even helicopters overhead. [sirens] This large body of evidence presents a detailed picture of how crowd control tactics – in this case, pepper spray and tear gas – can be misused or even mistreated, causing injury and further inflaming tensions. [screaming] Black lives matter! Black lives matter! Black lives matter! It is Monday, June 1, the third day of demonstrations in Philadelphia. More than a thousand protesters begin to march. Shortly before 5 pm, some of them enter I-676. They are disrupting traffic on a main road, and some are tearing the area apart, causing the police to intervene. But we see no signs of violence. “The people in the front signaled for all the cars to stop, stop. The cars honked to support us. ” [cars honking] Protesters advance into this tunnel, and soon, two SWAT teams arrive at the front and rear of the march. Their goal is to clear the road and help a state agent who is also on the scene. Philadelphia police initially claimed that the soldier was trapped in his car and threatened by protesters. But we can clearly see his empty vehicle, and images from the car’s dash camera, released several weeks later, show that police radio traffic refers to the protesters as “peaceful.” The soldier had been able to freely go out and join the SWAT team, contradicting the accounts of the city police. All we see is a protester spraying the empty car. [shouting and screaming] The first SWAT team arrives from the east side through the tunnel. People panic and the situation escalates, as seen from the ground and from above. Part of the SWAT team pushes protesters out of the tunnel with pepper spray. “There were, like, two or three SWAT officers, and they were just [spraying sounds] to anyone in front. There was no verbal warning. There was none, like, ‘Hello, you guys need to evacuate.’ Officers target people who are walking away from them or film the scene. Then the second SWAT team moves from the other side with an armored vehicle. “She goes right under the [inaudible]brother. Protesters are now wedged between two police teams. Most try to meet the officers and look for ways to leave the scene. Some escape. Others get caught. “Honestly, people were just trying to escape. There was no verbal warning whatsoever. There were no pushes with shields. There was no pushing with bikes. There was no megaphone. There was nothing! They were weapons. Weapons were the first warning. That’s it. “We spoke to this man, who was pepper-sprayed on the face by the second SWAT team, after sitting in the middle of the road. [screaming] “When I sat down, immediately, two women ran and sat across from me. And I guess they did this because they were protecting me. “When a tear gas canister landed near him, he thought of the women sitting nearby.” I couldn’t let them get hurt by something I chose to do. Okay, this was my decision. So, I picked up the tear gas. I threw it back, not directly at the police, but just, just away. And then, immediately, immediately, I sat down again, crossed my legs. She approaches the girl in front of her, the He sprays and lowers the mask. The girl next to him: he sprays her. I hear a spray. He pushes me, sprays me, sprays me continuously. I couldn’t see. I could barely breathe. Police guidelines state that pepper spray should not be used in disorderly crowds or peaceful protesters, only on specific people acting violently. [sirens] Then when a group of protesters leaves the road and climbs this small hill, we see appalling misuse of tear gas. At this point, you can see that the road is clear and traffic is flowing. This is crucial. Protesters had clearly complied with the police and were trying to get off the highway, a finding that directly contradicts how the police would characterize what happened. “The option to deploy tear gas was selected when it became apparent at the time that other options were not effective.” But protesters are caught in a dead end. “When the cops came from both sides, under the bridges, if you weren’t gone, like, as soon as the cops showed up, there really was nowhere to go.” The only escape route: climbing a large fence and wall at the end of a hill. Behind them is the highway. And that’s where the pepper-spray police officers and the state trooper are, pinning them. A local cameraman named Sunny Singh, who runs a website called hate5six, shoots the scene. [screaming and shouting] Tear gas is intended for dispersal, but if the gas is used in a space with no easy exit, people cannot walk away. At that exact moment, other images show an officer directing people up the hill, toward the crowds trapped in tear gas. [coughing] Police later said they had also fired white smoke to reduce the impact of the tear gas, but the effects are still strong. According to a health and human rights expert who reviewed the videos, protesters are at risk of being injured in a stampede. They are also at risk of excessive exposure to tear gas and chemical burns. [bang] “All I see is tear gas and people fighting to escape.” Drew Underwood was on the hill that day. “I take out my phone, because I’m like, nobody is going to believe, if I tell this story, like, what’s really happening. And so, when I went back to my left with my camera, I immediately felt … [smack] “- something hit me. They hit me in the face. “Underwood believes he was hit in the face by a projectile fired by the police, which scarred his cheek.” I did nothing to deserve this in my face. The other people who were shot, who received gas tear gas, they did nothing that deserved that trauma, but we have to live with it. ”As the protest ends, the police fire projectiles at onlookers on the road. [shooting] – and stop some of the remaining protesters, dragging them down the hill. After the protest, the Philadelphia police gave their opinion on what happened on June 1. “When people run on a highway, at that time, they don’t consider themselves peaceful.” Officers justified their use of force by treating each person on the road as violent. A statement from the mayor said that the police were authorized to use tear gas “when absolutely necessary in violent situations, if and only if, minor methods did not stop the violent behavior.” After weeks of tension, the city announced an independent investigation into the police’s overall response to the protests. Our own analysis of the June 1 incident found that it was non-violent and that police SWAT teams violated protocols by using force on cornered protesters while trying to leave the march. [shouting] Give him a hand! Give him a hand! Give him a hand! “I need help. I can’t …” “Okay, feet up. Lift one foot up. One foot.