A suspect was in custody in connection with the vandalization of the Israeli flag on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Mayor Kenney said Tuesday evening.
“Hate and anti-Semitism have no place in the City of Philadelphia. While I understand that emotions are running high and there are many viewpoints stemming from recent violence against Palestinians and other protesters in the Gaza Strip, it doesn’t warrant hateful acts of vandalism,” Kenney said in a statement.
“Fortunately, due to the swift work of the Philadelphia Police Department as well as concerned residents, a suspect was placed into custody shortly after this incident occurred,” Kenney said.
The suspect’s name was not immediately released.
Laura Frank, who handles public relations for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, photographed the man with a paint gun under the flag and witnessed his subsequent arrest.
Frank said a federation volunteer called around 3:30 p.m. to say the flag had been desecrated and she and some others decided to see what had happened.
When they arrived shortly before 4 p.m., they saw a man with a paint gun under the flag. Frank said she approached and started taking pictures and the man immediately dumped the gun in a trash can and ran away.
Frank said they called police. The police soon afterward arrested the man, who apparently was walking back to the area of the flag.
The incident followed protests Monday in Center City over the deaths of Palestinians in confrontations with Israeli forces and the relocation of the United States embassy to Jerusalem.
Frank said she encouraged dialogue over the controversies, but vandalizing the Israeli flag was wrong.
“It should be allowed to hang in peace,” she said.
The area next to the flag is fenced off for the construction of the Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Plaza. Since 1964, it has been the site of the the Monument to the Six Million Martyrs, the first Holocaust statue established in a United States city.
Witnesses say they watched this man shoot red paint from this paint gun & deface the Israeli flag in broad daylight … then after calling the cops they saw a man fitting the same description & police arrested him … more details to come @6abc pic.twitter.com/AWgtx8V9LQ
— Annie McCormick (@6abcAnnie) May 15, 2018