The Brief: Why the “Philly Is Baltimore” Protest Was Mostly Peaceful

The "Philly Is Baltimore" protest | Photo by Victor Fiorillo

A scene from the “Philly Is Baltimore” protest | Photo by Victor Fiorillo

1. The “Philly Is Baltimore” Protest Was “Tensely Peaceful,” and That’s a Good Thing

The Gist: After riots and looting broke out this week in Baltimore in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, state Sen. Anthony Williams said Philadelphia is “sitting on a powder keg.” District Attorney Seth Williams said “at any given time, anything could happen.” Thankfully, though, Thursday’s “Philly Is Baltimore” protest was, according to news reports, largely peaceful. Philadelphia magazine’s Victor Fiorillo, who was there, called it “tensely peaceful” and said “as of 11 p.m., we’d only heard about a handful of arrests.”

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Baltimore’s Freddie Gray Died in Police Custody — Could the Same Thing Happen Here?


On the morning of April 12, a handcuffed Freddie Gray was placed in the rear of a Baltimore police van. He was not buckled in. When he was removed about 45 minutes later, he had a crushed voice box and severe spinal injuries. Gray died a week later, and now Baltimore is roiling.

We don’t know yet what happened to Gray, but the timeline has investigators focused on his trip in the back of that police van, and speculation is rampant that Gray was treated to a “rough ride,” or as it’s been called in Philadelphia, a “nickel ride.”

What is a nickel ride, exactly? Well, it’s nothing new in Philadelphia. Let this 2001 Inquirer investigation by Nancy Phillips and Rose Ciotta explain: Read more »

If You See a Cop Stop, Start Recording

North Charleston police officer Michael Slager caught on video shooting Walter Scott in the back.

North Charleston police officer Michael Slager caught on video shooting Walter Scott in the back.

For the past week, the country has spent a lot of time — perhaps too much? — watching North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager fire his gun repeatedly into the back of a fleeing Walter Scott, who died. Slager was denied bail and is currently sitting in jail awaiting trial for murder. But would that be the case if not for the bystander who caught the tragic shooting on video? I think not. Read more »

The Astonishing Ubiquity of Walter Scott’s Death

Walter Scott Shooting

I spent the better part of the last week avoiding video of the Walter Scott shooting. I read the various articles that accompanied it as it came across my screen – up and down my Twitter timeline and in various pockets of my Facebook feed. In every report and opinion, the video of a man’s last violent, terrifying moments were embedded close by, as though the mere description of such tragedy was not enough.

As I sat for dinner at a quiet Italian restaurant, the video I’d long avoided confronted me again and again thanks to CNN’s insistence. As it looped, I looked around to see if other people noticed, or were disturbed, or took issue. Technology, which has made this conversation possible, is now preparing to make many of us desensitized. Read more »

Questions Surround Death of Man in Vineland Police Custody


Phillip White via Facebook

Vineland police arrived on the 100 block of Grape Street on Tuesday after a report of a disorderly man. They left with 32-year-old Phillip White in an ambulance. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Officials are tight-lipped about the man who died in police custody in Vineland earlier this week, but some details have come out: Witnesses told NBC 10 they saw police punching the man and a police dog biting him.

On radio, a policeman said White tried to go for his gun. A witness told The Daily Journal the man was resisting arrest. Read more »

Here’s How Camden Reduced Gunfire by Nearly 50 Percent

shotspotter sensor diagram

Basic ShotSpotter sensor diagram |

Yesterday Camden County released data from ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection tool that allows cities to track gunfire and develop proactive policing strategies as a result.  The latest numbers show that between 2013 and 2014, the city of Camden experienced a 48 percent drop in gunfire — the third largest of 28 cities for which ShotSpotter has year-over-year data.

This puts Camden ahead of several larger cities in terms of gunfire reduction, most notably Chicago, Milwaukee and Oakland, California. It also coincides with a broader drop in crime in Camden: violent crime is down by 21 percent; homicide is down by 42 percent; and homicide by shootings is down by 46 percent.

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Got Any Extra Horses?

via Shutterstock

via Shutterstock

We know that many of you out there have stables overflowing with equine, so we thought we should pass along this ask from the Pennsylvania State Police: They need your horses. Read more »

Dan Aykroyd Will Donate to Family of Fallen Philadelphia Police Officer Robert Wilson III

Actor and comedian Dan Aykroyd is at the Philadelphia Flower Show today to promote his Crystal Head Vodka company. According to CBS 3, earlier in the day he got up to make an announcement that he and the company would donate to the family of Officer Robert Wilson III, the eight-year police veteran who was killed in a shooting yesterday evening at GameStop.


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