Hundreds gather in streets of Philadelphia's Brewerytown section; many people seen without a mask

Maggie Kent Image
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Massive crowd gathers in Philly, ignores stay at home order
It took Philadelphia police nearly an hour to break up a group of 200 people that gathered in Brewerytown Monday.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It took Philadelphia police nearly an hour to break up a group of 200 people that gathered in Brewerytown Monday.

Investigators say the crowd of mostly young people was listening to a DJ around 9 p.m. at 28th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue when they received a call about a fight.

Joseph Ragsdale was there as the DJ played on and the crowd of about 200 people started to form.

"It wasn't really no fights, it just was quarantine we should have been social distancing," said Ragsdale. "But it didn't happen."

Police say more and more people had shown up after word began to spread on social media.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw explained the difficulty in policing large crowds during a pandemic.

"We have to be very mindful about how we choose to interact and how we don't. And as the weather gets nicer, I anticipate that we will have to interact or intervene with big groups," said Outlaw. "Because again, folks seem to think that it's over and it's not."

Chopper 6 flew over the scene around 10 p.m. showing many people in the group who were not wearing masks. Some officers were seen without a mask as well.

Police were able to move and disperse the crowd. However, investigators say two men were arrested.

In one case, they said a man refused to leave and ended up putting his hands on officers. The other arrest involved a man who got into a car accident.

"A vehicle leaving the area also got involved in a minor auto accident," said Philadelphia police chief investigator Scott Small. "Police stopped that vehicle and they recovered a gun from that vehicle."

Mayor Jim Kenney says people have to self-police during this pandemic and listen to public health officials. "Every one of these incidents that you see with large numbers of people just flaunting reality, we could probably wind up back in the red again," said Kenney.

Philadelphia remains in the red phase of Governor Tom Wolf's reopening plan which prohibits large gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19. By the end of next week, the governor expects to move Southeastern Pennsylvania into the yellow phase when gatherings up to 25 people will be allowed.