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November 14, 2016

Transcript: Mayor Kenney's speech on hate crimes closes International Unity Cup

Politics Crime
02042015_jim_kenney_AP Matt Rourke, File/AP

Then-Philadelphia Councilman (now current Mayor-elect) James Kenney speaks before Mayor Michael Nutter signs legislation that broadens equality protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people living and working in the city, Thursday, May 9, 2013.

Amid a wave of disturbing incidents that have transpired in Philadelphia in the week since the U.S. election, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on Monday delivered a speech addressing the hateful acts at the closing reception of the 2016 International Unity Cup. 

The global soccer event, staged in Philadelphia this year, wrapped up on Nov. 5 with Ivory Coast claiming the championship in a 1-0 win over Liberia. 

Kenney had issued strong responses after each of the past week's incidents — including vandalism, cyber racism, a flash mob, an assault, and malicious acts invoking President-elect Donald Trump — but on Monday took the opportinity to elaborate further on the need to find common ground, in Philadelphia and beyond. 

Below is the full transcript of Mayor Kenney's remarks

Thank you to everyone who made the first Philadelphia International Unity Cup such a success, including our sponsors, the City staff, our teams, coaches and the wonderful artists represented here tonight.

I am so excited to announce that thanks to your efforts this tournament will become an annual tradition!

Soccer is known as “The Beautiful Game,” and it was indeed so beautiful to see Philadelphia’s diverse communities come together through this tournament

At a critical moment in our country’s history, you all showed the entire city what can be accomplished when we embrace and celebrate the diversity of our communities. 

And that is a significant accomplishment, but we cannot stop there.

I know right now that many Philadelphians are feeling anxious, angry, afraid, and even hopeless. Others feel emboldened by hateful rhetoric to act out in destructive ways.  

And for many of you, those feelings of disenfranchisement predated this election. In some cases, those feelings are centuries old.

But, if we allow any of these feelings to guide us to violent or hateful actions, then we are no better than what we claim to oppose.

Calling someone by any type of slur, defacing a building, or participating in a flash mob, does nothing to help preserve the values of diversity and inclusion that make Philadelphia strong.

In the past few days, there have been attacks, intimidation, damage to public and private property — these acts have no place in our city. Those who choose to commit these acts should know you will be caught and charged to the fullest for breaking those laws. 

Regardless of whether you are committing these crimes or saying these slurs in support of the President-elect or against him, it is not welcome in Philadelphia.  

To be clear, you should call out bigotry when you see it. You absolutely must. But we must also recognize that you cannot combat hate with more hate. 

Instead, we must work – and I mean really work – to preserve and protect what you love about this city.

Don’t just hold up a sign at a protest – protest is valuable and important and I will always respect your right to do it – but it alone will not strengthen our city in this time of darkness.

We need Philadelphians to step up and become educators, foster parents, rec center volunteers, homeless outreach workers, participants in our Police Service Areas, and all those jobs and volunteer roles that make Philadelphia its best self. There are so many productive ways that you can channel your feelings into productive actions that help build bridges and strengthen our communities.

As your Mayor, I pledge to you that I will stand up against hate crimes, violence and anything else that threatens our city’s inclusive and diverse practices, but I cannot do it alone.

So please, join me and help Philadelphia truly become the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. We are the city that gave birth to this great country over 240 years ago. We are guided by laws, respect for our neighbors, and a belief in progress, and we are a city whose greatest strength comes from our ability to stand together.