Yes, Blue Lives Matter. So Do Black Lives.

Emerald Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, center, visits a makeshift memorial near the site where NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were murdered in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. Police say Ismaaiyl Brinsley ambushed the two officers in their patrol car in broad daylight Saturday, fatally shooting them before killing himself inside a subway station. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Emerald Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, center, visits a makeshift memorial near the site where NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were murdered in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. Police say Ismaaiyl Brinsley ambushed the two officers in their patrol car in broad daylight Saturday, fatally shooting them before killing himself inside a subway station. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

At first, I couldn’t figure out what made me uncomfortable about last week’s rally in Mayfair to support the Police Department.

The Facebook invitation seemed polite and earnest, a genuine gesture of gratitude following an incident in which a man allegedly reached for a handgun during a traffic stop (he was killed after a struggle with police). I’m from the area, and I’m incredibly grateful to the men and women who allow me to go about my life in this city feeling secure – as a woman who routinely walks her three-legged shih tzu while wearing four-inch heels, I rely very heavily on safe streets as opposed to, say, survival skills or physical prowess.

And yet, something about that rally didn’t feel quite right. Something looked confrontational about this peaceful protest.

And then I saw it, my least favorite Facebook meme, out there in the wild on posterboard: a “Blue Lives Matter” sign.

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Now Is the Wrong Time for Protests

It was Saturday night at the King of Prussia Mall and my 8-year-old son, David, wanted to see Santa. He took a picture with his mom’s iPhone of some toys he just saw and wanted to show Santa. Welcome to life in 2014.

We got to the Santa area in the middle of the mall and his helpers were putting up the velvet rope. “Santa has to take a quick break,” we were told. I pleaded and they allowed just one more. The velvet rope clipped on the pole and I was dad of the day.

As I stood waiting for my son’s turn with the big man, the helper confided in me that he needed to rush Santa out of there before the “Die-In.” A large group of people protesting the shooting deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner were going to sprawl themselves like so many dead bodies next in the fake snow and next to the giant candy canes, in hopes of disrupting Christmas shopping and visits with Santa.

On cue a little girl cried at the news that she would not be able to talk to Santa. She was told that he needed to feed the reindeer. In truth, his security team had to whisk him away before the embarrassing photo op of Santa standing jolly amid the mock dead.

It was surreal until the anger set in. How dare they!
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New York Shootings Raise Ramsey’s Concern

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says it’s time to cool heated rhetoric in the wake of two New York City cops being assassinated over the weekend.

The shootings came in the wake of weeks of protests — in Philadelphia and nationwide — after two grand juries failed to indict police in New York and Missouri for the killings of unarmed black men.
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Why “I Can’t Breathe” Matters

Dec 8, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) wears an " I Can't Breathe" t-shirt during warm ups prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.  Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 8, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) wears an ” I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt during warm ups prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

There was once a time in sports where it was cool to be an anti-hero. Charles Barkley ran a money-making campaign to prove he was not a role model. Michael Jordan, the best to ever do it, never made it his business to prove that he cared about the community either, despite how the hood’s love of Jordans has kept his money long in the years after basketball.

“Republicans buy shoes, too,” he once said. (Or possibly didn’t. Either way, Jordan was famous for his non-political stances during his playing career.)

The 1980s and early 90s, the years of modern excess, were years where anyone could say anything what they wanted, because everyone seemingly had everything they wanted. It was easy not to care, especially if you were one of the world’s biggest athletes.

But something’s changed in a major way. There’s something very special happening in sports right now. People care.

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Penn’s Gutmann Criticized for “Die-In” Pose

When protesters invaded Penn President Amy Gutmann’s holiday party Monday night, she made a snap decision: She joined them in a “die-in” — a protest that’s become popular in the wake of two grand juries’ decisions not to indict police officers for killing black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City.

Now she’s being criticized by Eric Rohrback, president of Penn’s police officers’ union.
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Protest Leads Organizers to Cancel Lantern Parade

Lantern+Parade,+Christmas+Village,+Philadelphia,+LOVE+Park,+Philly+POPS,+Concert

The Christmas Village Lantern Parade has been canceled.

That word comes via an email from Aversa PR and a note on the website. Lantern Parade organizers decided to call off the event after Ferguson protests were scheduled at the same time in LOVE Park.

The now-cancelled parade of “traditional German-style lanterns” was scheduled to start at the LOVE sculpture at 5 p.m. The event was scheduled to include performers from Enchantment Theatre’s The Snow Queen, a performance by the Philly Pops and a singalong led by the children from East Passyunk Ave’s Alphabet Academy.

Here’s the note from Aversa:

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In Policing Debate, Ferguson Is a Bad Example

National Guard stand in front of the Ferguson Police Department Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Missouri's governor ordered hundreds more state militia into Ferguson on Tuesday, after a night of protests and rioting over a grand jury's decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a case that has inflamed racial tensions in the U.S.

National Guard stand in front of the Ferguson Police Department Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Missouri’s governor ordered hundreds more state militia into Ferguson on Tuesday, after a night of protests and rioting over a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a case that has inflamed racial tensions in the U.S.

I like Mike Missanelli. I could listen to him talk sports and pop culture for hours on end, and have. Mike is the afternoon host on 97.5 The Fanatic radio station and a fellow contributor to PhillyMag.com. But he is wrong in continuing to use the police shooting in Ferguson as an example of a pervasive racial bias in police departments across America.

Missanelli made his case on this site last week when he chastised sports commentator and Hall of Fame basketball player Charles Barkley because he “didn’t express outrage at the non-indictment of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the confrontational shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.” And because Barkley said “the grand jury was righteous in its weighing of the evidence, and defended police officers as deterrents to even worse things that can happen in the ’hood.”

All of that is true and based in fact. Barkley is right.

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