No social distancing, very few masks: Videos show large block party in Southwest Philadelphia despite COVID-19 guidelines

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- City officials said Monday they are looking into the validity of videos that have been circulating of a large gathering during a block party in Southwest Philadelphia over the weekend.

Those that live in the neighborhood said the clips don't tell the full story of what happened, claiming an earlier celebration did adhere to social distancing guidelines.

One of the videos obtained by Action News of the celebration at 55th and Belmar Streets shows a crowd of people in close quarters during what was described as a block party celebrating numerous occasions. A lot of people in the video are seen without a face covering.

"We proud that we done it, even during COVID-19 season," said Darnell Jackson, who attended the party.

Jackson estimated thousands showed up, claiming the cooped up climate of these last few months has given people all the motivation to gather. A Philadelphia police officer is also seen in the video.

"We're not regretful at all," one neighbor said.

Oniekea Savage said the neighborhood's initial block party included spaced out tents, participants masked up and a police presence was there to keep an eye on things.

"The reunion we had out here was beautiful," she said.

Savage said sunset began to draw the large crowds from outside neighborhoods, which became the cause for concern.

"The same cops that were out here earlier were the same ones that came back. They said we would have never thought it would have been like this because it was so nice," Savage said.

Others in the neighborhood believe the large gathering - in some sense - was still safer than other settings.

You go to the grocery store, you go to Rite-Aid, people don't wear masks," said resident Drea Mumford.

Mumford says people could have done better, but she finds some solace that headline in her community isn't something worse.

"That large group of people and there was no drama and no issues. I'm here for that, I'm here for that. I mean this Philly at the end of the day," she said.

A city spokesperson said no complaints were received via the 311 system. It's still unclear if any were received by the Philadelphia Police Department.
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