A Philly teacher has been charged with terroristic threats following an alleged altercation during a protest of the city’s Frank Rizzo statue.
John Edward Sheerin, 63, of Crescentville, was arrested on Friday night, more than a week after police say he threatened violence against an officer on August 16th, the night of the “Philly Is Charlottesville” protest outside the Municipal Services building, where the Rizzo statue is located.
Sheerin was most recently a teacher at the Julia de Burgos Elementary School in North Philly. Kevin Geary, a spokesperson for the School District of Philadelphia, said the district has removed him from the school pending an investigation.
“The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority,” Geary said in a statement. “This is a matter which we take very seriously.”
According to video footage, Sheerin attended on Thursday night a protest outside the home of Ryan Pownall, the Philly police officer who shot David Jones in June. That contentious demonstration, which garnered pushback from some officials, drew about three dozen officers, a SWAT team, a police helicopter, and some angry neighbors.
Activists, including Asa Khalif of Black Lives Matter Pennsylvania and Isaac Gardner of the Coalition for Justice for David Jones, have pushed for Pownall’s arrest following the shooting of Jones, which they frame as an incident of police brutality.
Khalif made a Facebook post about Sheerin on Saturday, after Sheerin was released from the 19th Police District station, where some supporters camped out overnight in protest of his arrest.
Sheerin, who was released on $5,000 bail, is due in court for a hearing on Sept. 26th.
The Rizzo statue has drawn controversy for years, but renewed backlash comes after Councilwoman Helen Gym called for its removal earlier this month. Those who oppose the monument to the former mayor and police commissioner cite Rizzo’s brutish approach to law enforcement, which they say disproportionately affected people of color and the city’s gay community.
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