OPINION: The City Tolerates the FOP’s Lack of Respect for Black Lives

police

John McNesby of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” After the recent shakeups in the city’s political scene, our politicians have been unusually reserved about confronting what has now become one of the biggest obstacles to anything progressive in Philadelphia — the Fraternal Order of the Police.

For some odd reason, it’s hard for elected officials to criticize the city’s police union: Do so in any form and you might be mistaken for denigrating their service to the community. But there is a difference between condemning the job and holding it accountable — welcoming the latter should be required of any group that receives taxpayer’s dollars. Read more »

Kenney Calls Out Philly Police Union Head Over “Divisive Words”

L: Jim Kenney (photo by Matt Rourke/AP) R: John McNesby (photo by AP/Joseph Kaczmarek)

This weekend, the nation learned that Philadelphia police union chief John McNesby had referred to Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrating outside the home of a cop who fatally shot a black man as “a pack of rabid animals.”

At least, that’s how it seemed on Twitter and Facebook. Everyone from actor Kumail Nanjiani to Black Lives Matter supporter Shaun King to anti-feminist, anti-Islam pedophilia apologist Milo Yiannopoulos commented on the incident on social media. Rapper Killer Mike of Run the Jewels also called the union boss a “punk-ass” during a set at Made in America on Sunday. Read more »

OPINION: White People, Only You Can Stop the Next Charlottesville

White nationalist protesters and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017. Photo by Steve Helber/AP

The moment I came out of the womb, I already had two strikes against me: being black and gay in a nation that continues to systemically oppress both aspects of my identity. I am expected to function as a productive citizen while experiencing a daily onslaught of discrimination and microaggressions — and added to this personal and social distress is the burden of having always to defend my community: When one black person deviates, we are all held accountable. Read more »

Pa. AG to Probe Fatal Police Shooting of David Jones

david jones, asa khalif

Asa Khalif and Isaac Gardner confront City Council President Darrell Clarke during a press conference on Monday. | Photo via Christopher Norris for Techbook Online

The Pa. Attorney General will take over the investigation into the fatal police shooting of David Jones.

The shooting occurred on the evening of June 8th in Feltonville. Philadelphia Police Officer Ryan Pownall was transporting crime victims when he stopped Jones, 30, for riding a dirt bike.  Read more »

Asa Khalif: The Face of a Movement

Left: Asa Khalif, photographed by Adam Jones. Right: Khalif protesting during the Mummers Day Parade on January 1, 2016 (Associated Press).

Philadelphia activist Asa Khalif is no stranger to controversy, but even he was unprepared for the slings and arrows of Breitbart.

As the Philly face generally associated with the national Black Lives Matter movement, Khalif had become accustomed to the kind of media scrutiny that comes when you, say, put a Klan hood on Philly’s iconic Frank Rizzo statue. Since 2000, as founder of diversity and civil rights watchdog group Racial Unity USA, Khalif has crossed swords with everyone from Rosie O’Donnell to Allen Iverson. He doesn’t often talk about how old he is or where he’s from — he says he finds the concepts spiritually limiting­ — but suffice it to say he’s spent most of his life in the Philly region, where he was raised by his black mom and white adoptive father. Recently, Khalif, who works in real estate and is the filmmaker of the short AmeriKKKa Black, has been involved in nearly every hot-button civil rights issue germane to Philly, from stop-and-frisk policing to racism in the Gayborhood. Read more »

The Biggest Winners and Losers in Philadelphia’s 2017 Primary Election

Clockwise: Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif, Democratic district attorney nominee Larry Krasner, Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police chief John McNesby, labor leader John Dougherty, City Controller Alan Butkovitz, ward leader Marian Tasco, and protesters at Philadelphia’s Women March.

Philadelphia’s election on Tuesday was a game-changer. The winner of the Democratic primary for district attorney is a criminal defense lawyer who has never prosecuted a case in his life and made a name for himself by suing law enforcement over alleged abuses and representing progressive activists like Black Lives Matter. A young ex-budget director crushed incumbent City Controller Alan Butkovitz, the ultimate political insider, in an upset victory.

Those two Democratic nominees, Larry Krasner and Rebecca Rhynhart, are the race’s biggest winners. But who are the other winners and losers — the issues, interest groups, and kingmakers — in the election? Here’s our list: Read more »

OPINION: Black Lives Matter’s “Black Only” Meetings Aren’t Racist

Black Lives Matter Philly at a protest in April 2015.

Black Lives Matter Philly at a protest in April 2015.

I consider myself an intersectional feminist. Despite being a man, I personally stand as a proud ally for women’s rights and support their equal upward advancement in society. Within activist spaces in some of Philly’s feminist circles, there are moments in which male allies are encouraged to listen and not weigh in. Phrases such as “don’t occupy too much space” or “amplify marginalized voices” not only remind me of my privilege as the opposite sex in such arenas, but also set legitimate terms of agreement.

Sometimes, there are portions of the conversation during which men are asked to leave due to the sensitivity and privacy some women may request. As an ally, I have no other choice but to respect those requests given that I recognize that support to advance women within their movement should center them and not myself. Any impediment that I might personally pose to their demands for a safe space in which women can freely express themselves would be selfish and further destabilize their power within their own movement — which would be the absolute antithesis of being a feminist. Read more »

What’s Behind the DOJ’s Abdication on Checking Police Abuse

Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Photo by Jeff Roberson/AP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Photo by Jeff Roberson/AP

On Wednesday, a judge in Baltimore denied a Department of Justice request to delay a public hearing designed to let city residents share their views of a consent decree that was brokered between the Baltimore Police Department and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

The decree, which mandated sweeping reforms designed to curb a range of civil-rights abuses by the police, was negotiated after the April 2015 death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, a Black man who died in police custody.

To her credit, Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh has said she’ll go forward with the reforms despite the pass the Justice Department wants to give her. But because the Police Brutality Batphone has been ripped out of the wall of the Department of Justice in Washington, it’s probably not the last time that the agency will go to court to prop up the Thin Blue Wall. Read more »

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