Tens of thousands of Philadelphia sports fans flooded the city’s streets last night (February 4) to celebrate the hometown Eagles’ 41-33 win over the returning champion New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. According to U.S. News and World Report, many fans’ belligerence led to various instances of property damage, including a collapsed Ritz-Carlton Hotel awning, an overturned car, destroyed traffic poles and two reportedly stolen police horses.
Photos detailing this destruction on Getty Images and Twitter largely show White male perpetrators. The Philadelphia Police Department has not yet released a final arrest tally for the vandalism, but Ajennah Amir, a spokesperson for the the mayor’s office, told CNN of just three arrests. Black Lives Matter of Greater New York president Hawk Newsome called out the department’s treatment of these people—as compared to the aggressive policing of Black protesters at actions against police violence—in an interview with Newsweek this morning (February 5).
“Somehow, it seems there’s a line drawn in the sand where destruction of property because of a sports victory is okay and acceptable in America,” Newsome explained. “However, if you have people who are fighting for their most basic human right, the right to live, they will be condemned.”
Newsome pointed out city officials’ seeming reluctance to condemn the property damage, including police sergeant Brian Geer’s tweet telling people to simply “go home”:
Still going strong in the EOC. But, if everyone could go home that would be great. We have to get some rest to start planning a parade in the morning. pic.twitter.com/tueubQ4yHF
— Brian Geer (@PPDBrianGeer) February 5, 2018
Newsome told Newsweek that this response was “a glaring example of White privilege.”
“You can riot if you’re White and your team wins, but if you’re Black and being killed, you can’t speak out,” he added.
Newesome also contrasted the situation in Philadelphia with the Baltimore Uprising, when Black city residents demonstrated following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Newsweek says those actions led to 34 arrests. “I can’t condemn them and neither can anyone else, especially not the media, especially not politicians when they condone people who are just drunk and destroying property because their team won,” Newsome said.