State Rep. Kevin Boyle lashes out at Councilmember Isaiah Thomas in deleted late-night tweet

Thomas said the two Democrats have disagreed before, but share “a decade of friendship and support.”

Pa. State Rep. Kevin Boyle speaking in York, September 2020

Pa. State Rep. Kevin Boyle speaking in York, September 2020

DAN ZAMPOGNA / Gov. Tom Wolf on Flickr
maxmarin-byline

💌 Love Philly? Sign up for the free Billy Penn newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.


Set the “days since a Philly politician attacked another Philly politician on social media” counter back to zero.

In an unusually hostile Twitter post, state Rep. Kevin J. Boyle raged against City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, referencing the city’s spiking homicide rate and a police reform bill Thomas introduced this summer.

“Isaiah Thomas is probably the worst member of Philadelphia City Council,” Boyle tweeted at 9:42 p.m. on Sunday night. “In a city with a murder rate so out of control he’s literally championing efforts to further restrict policing. Furthermore he’s playing the race card. Total fraud!”

boyletweet-screenshot-thomas

Screenshot of state Rep. Kevin Boyle's now-deleted tweet attacking City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas.

The tweet, which has since been deleted but was captured in screenshots, linked to a Thomas tweet from four days prior, promoting a USA Today editorial endorsing a bill he sponsored. The measure seeks to bar police from stopping motorists for trivial vehicle code violations, like a broken taillight, outdated registration, or items hanging from a rearview mirror.

Black motorists are stopped at disproportionately higher rates than white drivers — three times more often, according to numerous analyses of police data — and many of these stops are justified using Pennsylvania’s wide-ranging and detailed motor vehicle regulations.

Thomas, who is Black, said he has personally been subject to what he views as unwarranted police stops. According to the USA Today editorial, the longtime community leader has been pulled over more than 20 times in his native Philadelphia, often for minor infractions, including once for “pausing too long at a stop sign.” He said he was sometimes handcuffed as a result.

“We should end the traffic stops that promote discrimination and keep the ones that keep us safe,” Thomas wrote in the July 28 tweet, alongside the editorial.

Reached for comment, Thomas said he was proud to share the USA today endorsement and was taken aback by Boyle’s public response several days later.

“While the tone of Rep. Kevin Boyle’s tweet is disappointing, this is not the first time we’ve disagreed in over a decade of friendship and support,” Thomas said in a statement. “We welcome conversations, however uncomfortable at times, about our agenda to improve police-community relations.”

Boyle did not respond to several requests for comment. Phone calls to his three legislative office locations went immediately to voicemail.

Boyle, who is white and whose district includes parts of Northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County, has been in office since 2011. Thomas took office in 2020 after winning one of Council’s seven at-large seats in a heavily crowded Democratic primary. The two Democrats have endorsed each other in past elections. Boyle and his brother, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, backed Thomas when he ran for council in 2015 and 2019.

Thomas is hosting a town hall to discuss the motorist legislation, open to the public — including Boyle, his office noted.

Mornings are for coffee and local news

Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter gives you a daily roundup of the top Philly stories you need to start your day.

You finished another Billy Penn article — keep it up!

We hope you found it useful, fun, or maybe even both. If you want more stories like this, will you join us as a member today?

Nice to see you (instead of a paywall)

Billy Penn’s mission is to provide free, quality information to Philadelphians through our articles and daily newsletter. If you believe local journalism is key to a healthy community, join us!

Your donation brought this story to life

Billy Penn only exists because of supporters like you. If you find our work valuable, consider making a sustaining donation today.

Being informed looks good on you

Thanks for reading another article, made possible by members like you. Want to share BP with a friend?