PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Crime was the focus for the Oz campaign Monday, as the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate visited Philadelphia for a three-hour series of events from Germantown to Kensington.
“If I got you into detox right now, would you go?” Mehmet Oz asked Manuel Berry, one of two drug users that he talked into going to rehab during his trip.
“100%,” Berry responded. He started out the day in Kensington looking to get high, but ended up hopping in the back of a pickup truck headed for Kensington Hospital, with Oz in the passenger seat.
“You can do this and that means you become another example, and you come back and help,” said Oz.
The odds are against Berry. He said he spent most of May in rehabilitation but left early and went back to using.
Getting him to try again, though, was a victory for Oz in a multi-part campaign event that included a tour of Allegheny Avenue with hair salon owner Jose Alicea-Muniz, and ended in Kensington’s notorious drug market.
It began hours earlier in Germantown, where he met with families of crime victims to discuss Safer Streets and unveil his plan to fight for Black communities.
Community activist Sheila Armstrong spoke emotionally about her nephew, a 14-year-old shot to death by a 19-year-old.
“We’ve got babies killing babies,” Armstrong said through tears. “I’m sorry. This is a hard topic to talk about, because the way I work through it is work.”
Oz proposed potential solutions, including a liquid natural gas plant in Philadelphia and more federal funding for private and parochial schools, to the mostly receptive group.
“I wrote down my ideas,” said Oz. “Please hold me accountable to them, but I did a lot of thinking. I’ve been talking to urban communities a lot on the show. I appreciate where the opportunities are.”
Pennsylvania state Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Philadelphia, attended but later issued a statement through the John Fetterman campaign, saying he’d attended to “make clear that Oz is a fraud who does not support any policies that would benefit the people of Philadelphia or Black voters.”
He said he was prevented from speaking, that the event was clearly only a photo opportunity, and at the end ripped up a pamphlet Oz distributed on fighting for Black communities.
Others were also vocal in not welcoming Oz.
“Go back to Jersey,” chanters outside the event yelled. “Our democracy is on the line.”
Andre Carroll was among that group, about a dozen neighbors who organized a protest several hours after learning Oz was visiting.
“Dr. Oz, you don’t live in Pennsylvania. You don’t live in Germantown. You’re not welcome here,” Carroll said.
The Fetterman campaign also issued a statement from U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia.
“So Dr. Oz made it across the Ben Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia to talk about what the city needs and how to tackle crime. I guess the traffic was light from his mansion in New Jersey,” said Evans.
“Dr. Oz has never done anything to take on crime and he has no idea about the issues we face in Philadelphia or Pennsylvania for that matter. We need real leaders who have heart and understand what it takes to turn around communities facing gun violence.”
Oz took questions after the tour, but declined to give specific answers on how he would vote on gun laws, a higher minimum wage, or a national abortion ban.