City Officials Mislead Gesner Street Fire Victims and Press to Defuse Third Tense Day of Protest

For a third day this week supporters and family of victims of a fire that killed 4 and displaced 42 persons in southwest Philadelphia raised an outcry over perceived mistreatment by Philadelphia city officials. Mourning and anger spilled into the streets on Monday night, and resulted in several arrests when neighbors and supporters of the 4 children killed Saturday blocked the exit of Firestation Engine 40. Protesters believed the firefighters’ poor response time led to the children’s death.

911 recordings and GPS data released by the Fire Department show that firefighters from a nearby station responded to calls about the fire within 3 minutes, and indicate that faultless error concerning the nature of the fire was responsible for the late arrival of the Ladder 4 truck to effectively fight the blaze which had been mistakenly dispatched to as a trash fire.

On Wednesday Patrick Sanyeah, father of the victims, made it clear that he and his neighbors were no longer protesting the firefighters but what they feel is an insult to the community members’ intelligence, delivered by the Mayor on television Tuesday night.

Genser Street residents outside of City Hall on Wednesday afternoon. Patrick Sanyeah, father of the victims, is on the left beneath the man in the gray ball cap. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

Genser Street residents outside of City Hall on Wednesday afternoon. Patrick Sanyeah, father of the victims, is on the left beneath the man in the gray ball cap. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

Yesterday Sanyeah and about 25 supporters marched from Gesner Street to City Hall to see Mayor Nutter, demanding that he apologize for the public slight. Public Safety Director Michael Resnick told reporters and protesters on scene that the Mayor was not in town. He also suggested to reporters that Mr. Sanyeah’s absence from the house when the fire occurred was somehow suspicious.

Civil Affairs officers on scene successfully defused tensions yesterday evening after protesters staged a short sit-in in front of the City Hall employee entrance. Reporters learned immediately after the protesters left that Mayor Nutter had indeed been in the city for hours.

Joanne Michele captures the details in her Storify, which highlights city officials’ callousness in response to grieving families, “It’s Always Daddist in Philadelphia”

Council President Darrell Clark's Communication Director Jane Roh reacts on twitter to comments from Public Safety Director Michael Resnick, from Joanne Michele's Storify "It's Always Daddist in Philadelphia"

Council President Darrell Clark’s Communication Director Jane Roh reacts on twitter to comments from Public Safety Director Michael Resnick, from Joanne Michele’s Storify “It’s Always Daddist in Philadelphia”

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About Kenneth Lipp

Kenneth is a writer and researcher. He’s from Alabama, and will not apologize for it. He moved to Pennsylvania in 2012, but has been in love with Philadelphia since a late-night stroll down Ben Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum in July of 2011 with the love of his life. He is interested in telling Philadelphia’s dynamic and absolutely unique stories with the zeal of a constantly enamored newcomer. Kenneth is also passionate about government transparency and protection of whistleblowers, most notably PFC Chelsea Manning. His research and reporting on law enforcement and surveillance have been featured in various publications, including Rolling Stone (Meet the Private Companies Helping Cops Spy on Protesters) and Popular Science (Boston Tested Crowd-Watching Software That Catalogues People's Skin Color). His training is in both genetics and history and he likes the joke about being a helicase and unzipping your “genes.” He’s driven to know, and thinks you can handle, the truth. Follow him on Twitter @kennethlipp.

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