17 protesters arrested outside Philly landlord-tenant court


City officials say they'll be issued code violation notices.

Mayor Jim Kenney said he supports the right to protest — indeed, he said he agrees no one should be evicted at this time — but said this group went beyond that.

“Blocking a courtroom from people getting in or getting out is not something that is part of your First Amendment rights and we have to make sure our institutions can do their business,” he said. 

Officials say the court won't be taking any new cases, though it was conducting hearings in the window between the expiration of the state eviction moratorium Tuesday and the beginning of the Centers for Disease Control-mandated moratorium. 

UPDATE: ⁦@PhillyPolice⁩ are arresting a small group of protesters blocking the entrance to the ⁦@philadao⁩ office. Protesting evictions, which are indefinitely cancelled pic.twitter.com/i1gYQ9MiGK

— Pat Loeb (@PatLoeb) September 3, 2020

The mayor notes the city also has launched its eviction diversion program, which requires landlords to participate in mediation with tenants who are struggling to pay rent because of COVID-19.

“Mediation helps tenants avoid an eviction while also helping landlords avoid a vacancy and unit turnover costs,” Kenney added. 

Officials say a tenant whose landlord tries to evict them without notice can call 911 and file a complaint with the Fair Housing Commission.