To “defang” means to render less dangerous. To “deride” means to subject to contemptuous criticism. Accordingly, Philly’s brutally and deadly dangerous police must be defanged and Philly’s naive or complicit Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw must be derided.
Municipal police departments, as they are now known, began as “slave patrols.” The first official one started in 1704 in the Colony of Carolina. The law creating those patrols deputized civilian white men to engage in the “monitoring… [of] rigid pass requirements for blacks…, breaking up large gatherings… of blacks…, searching slave quarters randomly, [and] inflicting impromptu punishments….” Fast forward to 1979 when Philadelphia became the first city in the country to be sued by the U.S. Justice Department for committing and condoning “widespread and severe” acts of police brutality. By the way, in 2016, the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)- along with the KKK- officially endorsed Donald Trump, the racist thug who advised cops to continue abusing presumably innocent people by not being “too nice” to them and by not “protecting their head” after handcuffing them and throwing them into the back of police wagons or forcing them into squad cars.
That is exactly why, around 5 p.m. on June 1 when peaceful protesters were marching on I-676 in support of police murder victim George Floyd in particular and the Black Lives Matter movement in general, Philly cops violently and criminally attacked with deadly pepper spray, deadly tear gas, and deadly beanbag rounds. Yes, I said “deadly.” And any city official who uses the term “non-lethal” to describe pepper spray, tear gas, or beanbag rounds is either a liar or an ignoramus or both. I’ll come back to those city officials shortly. In the meantime, allow me to explain why pepper spray is actually deadly.
As reported in the New York Times on June 12 by Knvul Sheikh, Dr. Mary Daly, chief of ophthalmology at the Veteran Affairs Boston Healthcare System, described pepper spray, which is medically known as “oleoresin capsicum (OC).” In describing it, she said, “There have been a number of reports of serious eye complications from OC.... It can cause permanent vision loss [i.e., complete blindness].... The risks are not only to the eyes. There has been a death reported..., which was attributed to OC exposure in a person with asthma.” Asthma, by the way, is a respiratory ailment.
And so is COVID-19, which is a widespread deadly respiratory virus. And the last time I checked, the world and the country- including Philadelphia- are still severely suffering from COVID-19. Why then would Philly cops add OC to the air when coronavirus is already in the air? WTF?!
It gets even worse. As revealed in a June 18 New York Times article by K.K. Rebecca Lai, tear gas has been banned in warfare by the Chemical Weapons Convention as part of the 1925 Geneva Gas Protocol that declared, “The use in war of asphyxiating... or any other gasses [including pepper spray and tear gas] and of all analogous... materials... has been justly condemned by the... civilized world....”
But it’s not just the pepper spray and tear gas that’s deadly. Additionally, it’s the bean bag rounds also fired by police on June 1. The British Medical Journal published a meticulous analysis in 2017 based on several decades of research regarding the use of beanbag rounds, rubber bullets, and other so-called nonlethal projectiles unleashed during protests and arrests. That scholarly study found that “15 percent of people who were injured were left with permanent disabilities and three percent of those who were injured died.” And Dr. Jeffrey Goodloe at the American College of Emergency Physicians pointed out that “The reality is, even though they were designed as nonlethal..., there have been some fatalities.”
I’m not finished. It goes from bad to worse to worse-on-steroids. Since 1997, more than 8,000 municipal police departments- including Philadelphia’s- have received $7 billion in military warfare equipment from President George H.W. Bush’s “1033 Program” initiated seven years earlier in 1990 as part of his so-called “War on Drugs.” And by military warfare equipment, I mean grenade launchers, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, fully-automatic submachine guns, and holographic sight-equipped M4 carbine night-vision sniper rifles among many other weapons of mass destruction.
That means Philly police believe, like Trump’s Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, police must “dominate the ‘battle space’” when dealing with peaceful First Amendment protesters.
Because of the racist history of American policing, the brutality of Philadelphia policing, the violently- and potentially deadly- disdain that Philadelphia police have for peaceful protesters, and the militarization of Philadelphia policing, Philly cops gotta be defanged before they batter or kill us all. And by defanging, I don’t mean merely taking their weapons of mass destruction away. I also mean drastically defunding them by slashing their wasteful slush fund budget with a chain saw.
Now let’s address Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, both of whom I respect as good people with good intentions. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And although I consider myself a great defense attorney, I cannot defend their indefensible decisions and indefensible initial public statements. What they decided and what they said mean they’re bureaucratic bunglers or blatant liars or something else. Assuming they’re not bunglers or liars, they are- in regard to the entire protesters episode from May 30 through June 1 throughout the city- something else and that something else ain’t good. In fact, it’s bad, historically bad because nothing specifically like this has ever happened in the entire history of Philadelphia. Never before in the history of the so-called City of Brotherly Love have marching protesters exercising their First Amendment right to “peaceably assemble to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” been corralled, kettled, trapped, and viciously attacked by police in a coordinated military assault.
At a June 1 evening press conference, Commissioner Outlaw said the police went to I-676 expressway between 20th and 22nd streets to “render assistance to Pennsylvania State Police... [after] a crowd of over 100 persons... surrounded a state trooper who was alone... in his vehicle and [they] began rocking the vehicle with the trooper having no safe means of egress.... The crowd also began rushing toward... [other] officers. The SWAT officers gave numerous orders for the crowd to disperse, to which the crowd did not comply.”
But not one word of her statement was true. Not a single one.
Mayor Kenney joined in the misinformation party when he, at that same June 1 press conference, stated, “After issuing several warning... [the police] made the decision to deploy tear gas to encourage the crowd to disperse.”
But none of that was true because there were no warnings and the decision to deploy tear gas was to inflict punishment upon innocent protesters, not to disperse a violent crowd.
Kenney and Outlaw issued profuse apologies on June 25 and blamed some lower-level officials after Kenney and Outlaw claimed the two of them had just recently seen probative video from the New York Times. Although I will take them at their word, I have to ask the obvious question: How the hell did reporters way over in New York have Philly law enforcement info that Philly’s Mayor and Philly’s Commissioner didn’t have? How is that even possible with Philly police body-worn cameras and Philly police car cameras and Philly TV news on-scene cameras?
If Kenney and Outlaw are sincere, they’ll do more than talk the apology talk. They’ll also walk the sincerity walk. If she’s sincere, Outlaw will fire the guilty cops. Also, by the June 2021 deadline, if he’s sincere, Kenney will renegotiate the City’s FOP violence-rewarding slush fund contract.
In addition, if they both are sincere, Kenney and Outlaw will publicly advocate for the immediate abolition of Legislative Act 111 of 1968, which is a state law that allows a civilian arbitrator from the pro-cop American Arbitration Association (which suspiciously rules in favor of police officers about 90 percent of the time) to “ignore findings of fact” regarding brutality and other misconduct deemed founded by the Internal Affairs Division (IAD) and the Police Board of Inquiry (PBI). That act also incredibly allows the arbitrator to “reject the punishment” assessed by IAD and PBI “even if the facts as charged have been proven.”
And if Kenney and Outlaw don’t do all of that, then I guess I was being too kind by describing them as good people with good intentions. I truly believe they are. But only time will tell. Meanwhile, we gotta deride them (even if only temporarily).
And we definitely gotta defang the police- immediately and permanently!