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September 23, 2020

Man in critical condition after being stabbed near Philly homeless encampment

City officials maintain forceful resolution of camps is a 'last resort'

Investigations Stabbings
Encampment Stabbing Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

After stabbing near Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia officials say they plan to address the public safety threat in discussions with encampment organizers, who have refused to leave the area despite orders issued earlier this month.

Philadelphia police are investigating a stabbing that occurred Tuesday night in the vicinity of the homeless encampment protest on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Authorities said the incident took place around 8 p.m. in the 300 block of North 22nd Street, near where the encampment has remained since June.

The victim, a 28-year-old man, was stabbed once in both legs and once in the back of the head, police said. He was transported to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.

No arrests have been made and no weapons were recovered, police said.

The incident comes as residents and organizers of the encampment continue to defy the city's order to leave the parkway on Sept. 9. Months of failed negotiations culminated in a federal judge ruling that the city had the authority to "dissolve" the camp, but city officials have repeated their wish to resolve the situation amicably.

A second encampment also remains on Ridge Avenue near Philadelphia Housing Authority headquarters.

Earlier this month, Mayor Jim Kenney referred to clearing the encampments as a "multi-day operation" and said he would not disclose whether or when police might be sent in to enforce the city's order to end the camp.

"This incident, along with other public safety incidents that have taken place over the past two months in the areas of both protest camps, make clear that these camps are not long-term housing solutions for those who are staying there," a city spokesperson said Wednesday morning. "In addition, they create a public safety threat for those who live near the camps. City officials intend to communicate that to the protest leaders today."

The city believes it has made some progress in resumed negotiations with encampment organizers.

"The mayor wants this resolved as soon as possible, but he has always maintained that a forceful resolution is an absolute last resort," the spokesperson continued. "As long as there remains even a glimmer of hope that we can reach a negotiated settlement, the administration will work toward that."