The Lead

Philly mayoral hopeful Gym apologizes for Union League visit

By: - February 1, 2023 12:11 pm

Philadelphia mayoral candidate Helen Gym (Philadelphia Tribune photo).

By Stephen Williams

PHILADELPHIA — Mayoral candidate and former City Councilmember Helen Gym apologized late Monday night for attending an event at the Union League after protesting the private club last week.

Gym was among the protesters who called for a boycott of the club after the presentation of its Gold Medal, its highest honor, on Jan. 24 to controversial Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The governor has pushed his policies of restricting the teaching of racism and African-American history in Florida schools.

On her Twitter account @HelenGymPHL, Gym said, “Earlier this evening, I made a stop at the annual meeting of an event that I have attended in the past. It was a mistake. I apologize for attending.

“I have been very clear that I opposed the Union League’s honoring of Ron DeSantis. I have also made clear that the Union League has been problematic long before DeSantis’ appearance.”

“I will continue to uphold the value that Philadelphia has no place for hate. I look forward to talking with Philadelphians about the City we want to build together.”

Gym’s attendance was noted by the Twitter account @nextphlmayor, which is attributed to Jeremy Blatstein, director of finance and design for Orens Brothers Real Estate, who tweeted, “Not even a week later, and Helen Gym is currently attending a cocktail party at the Union League…”

Gym was attending the General Building Contractors Association annual meeting. The group is one of the nation’s oldest trade associations that promotes commercial construction in the region.

The Rev. William Moore of Tenth Memorial Baptist Church in North Philadelphia, who helped organize the protest at the Union League, weighed in on the issue.

Protest set for Philly Union League event honoring Florida Gov. DeSantis

“I was troubled and disturbed by the former Council member’s actions given the fact that she was supportive of us protesting the award given to DeSantis,” Moore said. “For me it’s a matter of trust and conviction. As a Christian, I have to accept her apology.”

Nevertheless, given Gym’s reputation as an advocate for education and a former teacher, Moore said, “it’s strange that she would go to the Union League after we were protesting DeSantis trying to ‘sanitize’ our history.”

Maurice Floyd, a political consultant who attended the protest at the Union League, described Gym’s apology as “worthless.”

“I think it sort of tells you the type of person she is,” Floyd said. “You say one thing but it doesn’t mean anything. Anyone who says it is OK, has a lot of explaining to do.”

Stephen Williams is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared

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