Jacqui Heinrich reports from the scene after a day of violence in the city.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf reacted Monday to the violent and nonviolent protests that have unfolded across the Commonwealth in the wake of George Floyd’s death, saying, “We need to deescalate the violence.”
Wolf appeared with Rep. Dwight Evans, a fellow Democrat, in Northwest Philadelphia on Monday afternoon.
“[There are] so many sad scenes: food stores that have been gutted, pharmacies that have been gutted…” Wolf said. “These get to the heart of the day to day lives of Philadelphians and it makes it really hard to do what they do.”
He added: “We need to recognize that we have a lot of work to do to address the ills that the protests are about. Racism is wrong.”
Wolf said he has and will continue to work to make the Keystone State “a Commonwealth that is fair and decent to every Pennsylvanian.”
He said the civil protesters rightfully called attention to what he called systemic issues in American society.
“The issues that underlay this: the fact that this society is not an equal society and we have to do a lot more,” said Wolf, a second-term Democrat.
“The protests, for that reason, are really absolutely called for — what’s not called for is the violence that followed,” he added. “[W]e cannot live with the basic necessities being taken out of circulation, so we need to deescalate the violence.”
Several miles south of where he stood, outside State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald’s office in the West Oak Lane neighborhood, protests already were building on the Vine Street Expressway in Center City, where chopper video showed police making at least one arrest.
Wolf said he had been notified of the incident, and said he otherwise spent the afternoon meeting with local officials and business owners from across Philadelphia.
The governor said he met with Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat, in the Spring Garden area, before going to West Philadelphia and visiting a ShopRite and other businesses, as well as visiting with local clergy.
“We need to have a more equitable society,” Wolf said, calling attention to “centuries-old violence [toward] people of color in the United States.”
Wolf was asked more than once by the press about President Trump’s comments on a conference call with governors that some have been “weak” and that they should crack down harder on violent protesters.
He told the reporters he was not on that phone call, and did not offer a specific response.
“I’m not sure he understands what I’ve done and I certainly didn’t hear that charge,” he said in response to one reporter’s question on the topic. “So, I don’t know what he was talking about. I disagree with [the attribution of ‘weak’ governance] if that is his conclusion.”
Speaking further on what he said has brought about the peaceful protesting after Floyd’s death, Wolf said society must become “more equitable” and that the “biggest reparation would be actually to create a society that is equal.”