Phila. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey bluntly gave his take on the Black Lives Matter movement while getting his ears lowered last week.
The barber-side chat was part of a monthly web chat series hosted by the commissioner.
“That movement has the potential of being the most significant civil rights movement since the 60s,” Commissioner Ramsey told a group of reporters and patrons huddled around his barber chair while getting a shape-up.
When Philly Mag asked him what he would like to see out of the movement specifically, Ramsey said a broader conversation.
“I want them to expand their focus, not to stop holding police accountable,” Ramsey said in a phone interview. “I want them to address the disproportionate amount of violence in our communities.”
There have been 193 homicides in Philadelphia so far this year, down 36 percent from this time in 2007, according to the police department’s web site.
“Yeah, I’ve got bad cops. Ain’t no doubt about it. We get rid of them, charge them criminally, do whatever you’ve got to do,” Ramsey said in the video.
Of course, getting rid of those he’s believed to be problem officers has proven to be easier said than done. When asked about what proactive measures the department is taking, he said the Internal Affairs division goes out and observes officers, but other than that there is not much more that can be done.
“Once you see the behavior, you take action,” Ramsey said. “Whether it’s a complaint from another officer, or a complaint from a citizen, we then look into it.”
Ramsey was heckled at an event at Eastern State Penitentiary earlier this month by Black Lives Matter activists.
“What we need from the Black Lives Matter movement is thoughtful discussion and protest. The real change occurs in the discussion. Not just disrupting an event, like at Eastern State.”
The activists were there protesting the decision not to press charges against the officers who killed Brandon Tate-Brown last December. Ramsey said another piece of the puzzle is reforming how ex-convicts are treated.
“If you’ve done wrong and done your time and you come back out, you ought to be able to get a job. You ought to be able to vote. You ought to have full rights restored to you at some point in time. If you want people to behave differently, than don’t treat them differently,” Ramsey said.
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