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With cameras literally everywhere these days, including in almost every person’s pocket, visual evidence can play a big role in criminal investigations.
That’s true in the case of the vandalism of the Israeli flag that hangs over Benjamin Franklin Parkway this week, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
The man originally apprehended for intentionally splattering the flag with red paint, Antoine Guyton, was released at first because further investigation — including what appears to be a cellphone video of the incident — showed at least one additional suspect, the DAO said in a statement released Friday.
However, he’s not necessarily getting off scot-free. A new affidavit is being prepared for Guyton’s re-arrest, the DAO said, after further research implicated him in having some kind of role.
Guyton, 26, was arrested by police on Tuesday after he reportedly told officers he had vandalized the flag. Cops, who’d been alerted to the incident by the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia, found Guyton when he returned to the scene of the crime. He was charged with institutional vandalism, criminal mischief and other related offenses — but those charges were not immediately pursued.
In the video, another suspect can be seen using a water gun to paint red blotches across the flag. It’s “clear” that person was the first to spray the flag, the DAO said.
The desecrated cloth has since been replaced by a new one flying over 16th Street, not far from where a new Holocaust memorial is being constructed.
There has been no indication yet that the action will also be categorized as a hate crime. The incident comes after a protest in Center City Monday by people upset Mayor Kenney was honoring Israel’s 70th anniversary at the same time as the death toll in Gaza spiked. At least 60 Palestinians were killed in confrontations at the Israeli border as clashes intensified over President Trump’s decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
Philadelphia Police are actively looking for help identifying the unknown suspect in the Parkway vandalism video. If you have info or recognize the person, Central Detectives would like to hear from you at 215-686-3093 or 215-686-3094.
When Billy Penn reached out to DAO spokesperson Ben Waxman Friday afternoon, the office did not provide further comment.