Philly Police and Protesters Show the World How It’s Done

signs-940x540

Any time thousands of protesters pour into the streets of a city, very bad things can happen, as history has shown us time and time again. But on Thursday, Philadelphians once again proved that we know how to do it right.

People love to argue about crowd sizes, it seems, but suffice it to say there were a lot of shouting, chanting, angry people in Center City to protest Donald Trump and the Republican leaders who were holed up at the Loews Hotel for much of the day. At least 5,000.

And there were a ton of police officers. Everywhere. There were uniformed cops lined up around the sea of protesters. There were bike cops. There were, I’m sure, plenty of undercover cops.

There were so many cops that one protester told me she found it unnerving. She told me that she only saw three uniformed police officers during the big women’s march in Washington, D.C. I found that to be a pretty suspicious claim, but … I got her point. Cops galore.

But one thing there wasn’t on Thursday: problems.

According to the Philadelphia Police Department, there were zero — yes, zero — protest-related arrests on Thursday. And only one — yes, one — written citation. That was for disorderly conduct. Big whoop. That person will probably pay a small fine and be done with it.

Oh, there were a handful of “clashes” between cops and protesters.

At 13th and Market, cops grabbed a young masked guy, all clad in black. As I held my camera probably too close to the action, a couple of the cops asked me very politely to step back a bit. (I hadn’t identified myself as a member of the press and wore no press credentials, by the way.) And they spoke to the man quietly and politely as well.

In the end, they told the guy to scram and that if he wanted them to return the can of spray paint they found in his bag, he was free to go to the police station to pick it up. The cop in charge also calmly told him to tell his buds to protest all they want but that they’re going to have a problem if they insist on tagging the city. Fair enough. One anti-Trump protester told the head cop that he’d be happy to go to court as a witness on behalf if the police if the kid tried to claim he was roughed up.

And in all my conversations with friends and colleagues and all my searches through the social media feeds of folks at the protest, I found only two other anecdotes of significance, and barely that. In one, shield-assisted cops were seen pushing back on a crowd. In the other:

“I saw one police officer come out of nowhere and use his shoulder to destroy this kid who had gone through a police line,” wrote one Philadelphia man who attended the protest. “No one noticed but I thought it was excessive. The office was … easily twice the kid’s size. I thought it was a bully move and almost escalated the situation, so I was disappointed …”

We’ve never heard of a person being destroyed by a shoulder, but cool.

In the end, no broken windows. No reports of tear gassing, macing, or stun-gunning. No arrests. No videos of cops or protesters behaving badly — well, assuming you’re not offended by protesters chanting “asshole” over and over again or vagina-emblazoned posters and posters declaring “FUCK TRUMP.”

All in all, a great day for Philadelphia. Well, apart from the whole Donald-Trump-is-still-in-the-White-House business.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter

Philly Pays $4.4 Million Settlement For ‘Regrettable’ Police Shooting

CityHall-940x540

One of the most troubling police shootings in recent Philadelphia history has led to a massive payout.

The Kenney administration announced on Friday that a $4.4 million settlement has been reached to resolve lawsuits filed by Philippe Holland, a local pizza deliveryman who was left critically injured when a pair of undercover cops fired 14 shots at him in the spring of 2014.

Read more »

The Quiet Commissioner: Inside Richard Ross’s First Year as Top Cop

Richard Ross smiles during his swearing in ceremony as Philadelphia’s new police commissioner, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, at his alma mater, Central High School, in Philadelphia. Ross said his top priority is reducing crime while improving community relations in what he called “a challenging time for law enforcement.”

Richard Ross waited a decade for the chance to get into this chair.

It’s a smooth, ergonomic number with a high back — a captain’s chair, positioned at the head of a long conference table inside a heavily wood-accented office on the third floor of police headquarters. He looks comfortable sitting there, the well-practiced understudy who’s finally gotten his crack at the lead role.

Ever since 2005, when then-Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson promoted a 40-something Ross from Homicide Unit captain to deputy commissioner, the consensus within the department’s many gossipy cliques was that he would end up with the top job sooner or later. He was a straight shooter, police insiders would say, a decent man who was smart as hell to boot. Read more »

Is Malcolm Jenkins a Model for Protesting in the Age of Trump?

Malcolm Jenkins. (Jeff Fusco)

Malcolm Jenkins. (Jeff Fusco)

Malcolm Jenkins looks tired.

The Eagles have just wrapped up a practice on the Thursday after Election Day at the NovaCare complex in South Philly, and Jenkins settles into a dark leather chair in the corner of a small spare office. He’s wearing a black long-sleeve shirt, black pants, and a black Eagles T-shirt that looks like it’s made of those synthetic fibers that are supposed to make you sweat less when you exercise.

Read more »

Why Is This Man Dead?

Richard Ferretti

Richard Ferretti with, from left, his girlfriend, Stacey Betts, his mother, Mary Lou, and his sister, Lisa, in a 2014 photograph. Courtesy of the Ferretti family

A phone call from Philadelphia woke Mary Lou Ferretti from her dreams. There was a brief conversation that was both incomprehensible and chillingly clear, and it sent Mary Lou into the arms of her daughter and her son-in-law, who now sat bleary-eyed with her at their kitchen table.

It was just past 2 o’clock in the morning on May 4, 2016, and her son Richard was dead. Read more »

State Legislators Approve Bill Limiting Police Transparency in Pennsylvania

istockphoto.com, catnap72

istockphoto.com, catnap72

Last week, we told you about three controversial bills being fast-tracked through the Pennsylvania legislature.

One of them, a bill that would limit police transparency, is perhaps the most controversial of the three given national dialogue surrounding fatal and contentious police shootings of unarmed minorities – mostly black men. Read more »

« Older Posts