OPINION: GOAL Is the Wrong Choice for Grand Marshal of Pride

Here’s a not-so-fun fact: Every year, Philly Pride does something that sours me on our city’s LGBTQ community.

Whether it’s the lack of creativity in venue selection, the disproportionate number of cisgender gay white men dominating the event, or the lack of a queer-cultural embrace that intersects the community, Pride often fails to represent everyone.

But this year, the selection by event organizer Philly Pride Presents of the Greater Philadelphia Gay Officer Action League (GOAL) — a year-old regional law-enforcement organization whose members identify as LGBT — as grand marshals of the Pride parade on June 12th has left me beyond disappointed. Read more »

Philly Jesus Arrested at Apple Store

It may not be Holy Thursday, but Jesus got locked up today.

Michael Grant — aka Philly Jesus, the former heroin addict-turned-quasi-street preacher — frequently checks his email and Twitter at the Apple Store on Walnut Street.

Philly Jesus has been a constant presence in Center City for more than two years now. He shows up at city events, walks the streets during the workday — usually while carrying a cross. He brought that cross in with him at the Apple Store today, which may have been what caused all the trouble. Read more »

Delaware Police Officer Acquitted in Shocking Videotaped Kicking

A jury has acquitted a Dover, Delaware, police officer accused of kicking a black suspect in the face — even though the suspect appeared to be complying with commands at the time.

Dover Cpl. Thomas Webster IV, had been charged with felony assault in connection with the 2013 incident, which was captured on a police car dashcam. Webster was seen kicking 29-year-old Lateef Dickerson in the head, knocking him unconscious and breaking his jaw. Dickerson had fled from another officer who was breaking up a fight. Read more »

Police Officer in Medford, N.J., Files Racial Discrimination Suit

medford-police-400The only African-American officer on the Medford Township, N.J., police force is suing his employer and the township, alleging a pattern of racial discrimination in promotion, a hostile work environment and retaliation for testimony he gave during an internal investigation of his immediate supervisor, among other charges.

Officer Mark Hunsinger filed his lawsuit in Burlington County Court on October 10th. At a midday news conference December 7th, Walter L. Hudson Sr., founder and chairman of the National Awareness Alliance, NAACP New Jersey State President Richard Smith and Doug Long, the attorney representing Hunsinger, called on township officials to take action to rectify the alleged wrongdoing. Read more »

ACLU App Lets Civilians Record Police

A screenshot from the ACLU app.

A screenshot from the ACLU app.

The last year has been filled with videos depicting — or purporting to depict — police misconduct across the United States. Now the ACLU is encouraging Pennsylvania citizens to join the trend.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania released a new smartphone app on Nov. 13. Called “Mobile Justice PA,” the app lets civilians record video of police-civilian encounters and send it to the ACLU automatically. Read more »

South Jersey Cop, Son Charged With Harassing Civil Rights Activist

Civil rights activist Walter Hudson (Photo courtesy National Awareness Alliance)

Civil rights activist Walter Hudson (Photo courtesy National Awareness Alliance)

Penns Grove is a small town in Salem County, New Jersey, sitting directly across from Wilmington along the Delaware River. But as small towns go, the borough of just over 5,000 has more than its share of tension and unrest, and community activist Walter Hudson seems to be at the center of a lot of it. Read more »

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey Announces Retirement

Charles Ramsey police commissioner announces retirement

Charles Ramsey announces his retirement at City Hall on Tuesday, October 14th. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey will retire at the end of Mayor Michael Nutter‘s term in January, he announced today at City Hall. His last day is January 7th, eight years after he was sworn in as police chief.

“I want to thank all the citizens of Philadelphia, all the community organizations that are out there every day, and all the officers in the Philadelphia Police Department,” Ramsey said. “I just want to thank everyone for giving me the opportunity to serve in this great city.”

Ramsey, who was born in 1950, has been police commissioner since taking over for Sylvester Johnson at the start of Nutter’s term in January 2008. He left retirement to take the job. Under his watch, killings by Philadelphia Police plunged, with only one this year. Yet the department was still criticized in a scathing report issued by the Department of Justice earlier this year. Ramsey had asked for the report.

“We have, in my opinion, come in compliance with a number of the recommendations,” Ramsey said. “I’m confident we’ll be in full compliance. We’ll come out as a better department, as a stronger department.”

The police killing of Brandon Tate-Brown last year remains controversial — there were protests just yesterday — with conflicting stories told by police and witnesses. (He’s been protested constantly, including at Eastern State Penitentiary.) Read more »

Philly Native Chosen to Lead Ferguson Police Department

 (Source: Glendale Police Department)

(Source: Glendale Police Department)

A Philly native is taking over the police department in Ferguson, Mo., where clashes between police and protesters last year helped set off the “Black Lives Matter movement nationwide..

Andre Anderson, 50, has spent 24 years with the police in Glendale, Arizona, rising to the rank of commander, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Prior to that, though, he served in the Army and grew up in Philadelphia, becoming an amateur boxer long the way.

“Anderson said he takes a lot of pride in having grown up in Philadelphia, a city with a rich boxing tradition. He began training at age 12 and boxed his way through the Army as a formidable amateur,” the Arizona Republic said in a 1999 profile. “After leaving the Army, he moved to Arizona and fought two professional fights, winning both, before his boxing career was shattered in 1988. That is when he was struck by a car while fixing a flat tire along Interstate 10 near Eloy.” Read more »

My 10-Step Plan for Emancipation From Police Brutality

NEW YORK CITY - AUGUST 23 2014: Thousands rallied in Staten Island demanding justice & accountability in the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown & other victims of alleged police brutality a katz / Shutterstock.com

NEW YORK CITY – AUGUST 23 2014: Thousands rallied in Staten Island demanding justice & accountability in the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown & other victims of alleged police brutality a katz / Shutterstock.com

Municipal police departments, as they are now known, began as slave patrols. In fact, the first official one started in 1704 in the Colony of Carolina and then spread throughout the South until 1865. The laws creating those patrols required white men to ride the roads and, as documented by Western Michigan University history professor Dr. Sally Hadden in Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and Carolina, engage in the “monitoring … (of) rigid pass requirements for blacks … breaking up large gatherings … of blacks, … searching slave quarters randomly, [and] inflicting impromptu punishments.”

Sound familiar? Yeah! A lot like 2009 when more than a quarter million persons in Philadelphia were subjected to “Stop and Frisk.” Despite African-Americans constituting 44 percent of the city’s population, they constituted 72 percent of the persons stopped and frisked. And because the vast majority was black men, that means (after extrapolating from available race/gender figures) approximately 20 percent of Philadelphians comprised, inexplicably, nearly three of four persons stopped and frisked. By the way, of that quarter million, less than about eight percent led to formal arrests and even less to convictions. Read more »

« Older Posts