by Alex Poletti
The Philadelphia Police Department has faced national backlash after arresting Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty outside of the Wells Fargo Center following the Maple Leafs-Flyers game on March 27.
Sources at the scene tell The Second String that the seven-foot-tall mascot was simply walking to his car when he was accosted by two police officers. After a few words were exchanged between the parties, things quickly escalated and Gritty was held against the roof of his car at gunpoint.
“I saw Gritty casually strolling to his car, maybe taking a bit longer than one would expect, but then all of a sudden these two cops come up to him and then bam,” Philly resident Mitch Barbiglio says. “They were yelling at him, cuffing him, one of the officers even had his gun out.”
According to the official report from Philadelphia PD, Gritty was booked for resisting arrest. He was released the following afternoon after video footage of the event went viral and the officers’ conduct was unilaterally denounced by the public.
“This arrest was disgraceful,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in an official press conference. “Gritty is a member of the NHL family, and to see him treated this way for how he looks is vile and reprimandable.”
Many critics have said that if Gritty were not orange, he would not have faced the same treatment from police. Indeed, video footage shows many normal-colored people loitering in the parking lot where the incident occured.
After his release from custody, The Second String was able to secure an exclusive interview with the NHL mascot.
“It was an embarrassing moment for me,” Gritty said in his Philadelphia home. “I mean, my family had to see that. My wife and kids. Now my kids are going to have to go to school and everyone will be looking at them because their father was arrested.”
At this point, Gritty began tearing up. Though The Second String offered to conclude the interview early, the mascot insisted that we continue.
“No, the public needs to see this,” Gritty said adamantly. “This is what happens when police mess with innocent people. It hurts. This really goes to show you how much more progress needs to be made in our society. It’s terrible that this still happens, but it’s part of living in America. I got off in part because I’m a celebrity. Other people that look like me don’t get treated the same way.”
Despite the criticism from politicians, athletes and the public, Philadelphia Police stood by their officers.
“Based on our guidelines and regulations, Officers Santoyo and Garrison did everything right,” the station said in a press conference early this morning. “They were following protocol. And honestly, if you were approached by a seven-foot-tall hairy man with googly eyes and a hockey stick, wouldn’t you be scared too?”
After the station released that statement, Gritty’s teammates were soon to back him up.
“Gritty is part of the Flyer family. I stand by my brother 100 percent,” Flyers centerman Nolan Patrick tweeted. “This goes to show everyone that just because there’s an orange man in the White House, that doesn’t mean orange people don’t face discrimination.”