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Newly released video offers an up-close look at what happened on the Vine Street Expressway during protests last summer in Philadelphia.
RICK WILLIAMS: Right now, the details. It's been one year since protests over the death of George Floyd spilled onto the Vine Street Expressway in Philadelphia. Those demonstrations were met with a swift response from police, which included the use of tear gas. Today, lawyers for many of those protesters continue their call for accountability. And Action News reporter Walter Perez is live in the Action News Satellite Center with those details for us tonight. Walter?
WALTER PEREZ: That's right, Rick. Today's press conference was organized by attorneys representing 230 plaintiffs who were there one year ago today on 676 when the protests that came in the wake of the murder of George Floyd came to a head.
This is newly released video of what happened on the Vine Street Expressway on June 1, 2020. Attorney Riley Ross says he and his colleagues decided to release this footage so the public can see what it looked like from the ground as protesters marched on I-676, bringing rush hour traffic to a halt, followed by law enforcement using tear gas to get everyone off the highway. Ross claims it's more evidence that the tactics used by state and local authorities on that day were heavy-handed.
RILEY ROSS: The irony is not lost on us that those who were protesting police brutality were met with police brutality here in Philadelphia.
WALTER PEREZ: The police response to protests on May 31 and June 1 of last year resulted in hundreds of legal claims being filed. At least one has been settled, but the vast majority remain pending. Meanwhile, last month, charges were dismissed against a former Philadelphia SWAT officer who was recorded pepper-spraying protesters last June 1. The judge ruling that Richard Nicoletti had been authorized by his commanders to clear the highway, and was given pepper spray to do just that.
But attorney Paul Hetznecker says that authorization is at the root of the legal action being taken.
PAUL HETZNECKER: This military style of policing, warrior-style policing, is antithetical to public safety. It's antithetical to the First Amendment, as was reflected last year on I-676. And it's a threat to our democracy.
WALTER PEREZ: Now, Mayor Kenney and Commissioner Outlaw have since apologized for the use of tear gas and pepper spray last year. No further comments were offered today, though, citing pending litigation. Reporting live from the satellite center, Walter Perez, Channel 6 Action News. Rick?
RICK WILLIAMS: Walter, thank you.