PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) -- Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced assault and announced assault and related charges against one man stemming from one of a number of protests of a now-covered Columbus statue in South Philly while suggesting "unequal application of the law" by police during the demonstrations. Krasner alleged that 58-year-old John Mooney repeatedly told a Black man who is a professional photographer "Get out of here, boy," before punching him in the face Tuesday evening at Marconi Plaza.
Mooney was charged with misdemeanor counts of ethnic intimidation, simple assault, reckless endangering and harassment.
Krasner said such incidents "continue to raise serious questions about policing and unequal application of the law" in the city. For the past month, he said, thousands have taken to the streets to demand equal justice and accountability for police and other institutions "and have done so without wielding bats, hammers, firearms, or racial epithets."
However, Krasner said, during altercations at the plaza and surrounding neighborhood "anti-racism protesters and journalists have been verbally and physically assaulted, in direct view of law enforcement officers who have – by the numbers – made far more arrests of protesters and journalists than they have of these bat-wielding, assaultive, and threatening individuals."
"Yet, during widely documented altercations in the Fishtown neighborhood and at Marconi Plaza in South Philly, anti-racism protesters and journalists have been verbally and physically assaulted, in direct view of law enforcement officers who have – by the numbers – made far more arrests of protesters and journalists than they have of these bat-wielding, assaultive, and threatening individuals," Krasner said. "It is no wonder, then, that Americans here and across the country have been marching non-stop since late May, following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police, to demand equal accountability and equal treatment under the law.
"To the elected officials who are watching these mass demonstrations for justice, I say: Do what is right and deliver the accountability and the justice that the people demand. Protect journalists. Protect free speech. Stop protecting people who won't leave their bats at home."
The police department declined to comment on Wednesday. It wasn't immediately clear whether Mooney had an attorney.
The city last week built a wooden box around the Columbus statue following clashes between protesters and residents as Mayor Jim Kenney announced a process to decide its future.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that about 50 protesters who had walked south from an earlier protest over police funding were engaged by more than 100 men who had gathered wielding baseball bats and hammers. The men dropped the bats when protesters arrived, and the groups exchanged harsh words. Several members of each group soon began shoving each other, and at least one man was punched in the face, and two men — one from each group — were detained by police, the paper said.
Earlier Tuesday, police said 26 people were arrested and issued summary violations for failure to disperse in a demonstration at the city's Municipal Services Building near City Hall. A journalist was detained but later released and wasn't charged.
Kenney said in a Twitter post that he was "extremely disturbed" by video of the reporter's detention, which he said "may violate the law and (police) policy." He said that would be "fully investigated and addressed" and police said the entire incident was being investigated by Internal Affairs.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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