A day after two Philadelphia Police officers fatally shot a Black man on her block, Tracy Smith said police-community relations have been at rock bottom for years.
Smith, 60, said the neighborhood along the 6100 block of Locust Street does not trust the Philadelphia Police Department. She said white officers primarily patrol the Black neighborhood and police-community relations were non-existent.
“Y’all ride through but you don’t stop to talk to anybody in this neighborhood — but you’re serving us, but you don’t know us,” Smith said about police officers while standing on the front steps to her row home on the block.
“Why can’t we see cops that look like us? You don’t feel what I feel because you’re not of my color — and that’s no disrespect to no one."
On Monday around 4 p.m., police fatally shot Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man who was armed with a knife, during a confrontation in the West Philadelphia neighborhood.
Video of the police shooting immediately spread on social media. The police shooting triggered protests, as well as incidents of rioting and looting around the city.
On Tuesday, Wallace’s family members remained inside their row home on the block. Visitors continually walked in and out of the house, some dropped off food and flowers.
Several residents on the block lingered on their porches and stairs.
Some residents described the block as family-oriented where everyone knows one another and looks out for one another.
At one point, Wallace’s family members shouted “Black Lives Matter!” multiple times from their second-floor balcony.
Outside the Wallace family's row house, Maurice Holloway, a relative of the family, had just dropped off a bouquet of flowers.
Holloway said he witnessed police shooting and kill Wallace on the street.
“It’s like we’re numb to it,” Holloway said about another police killing of a Black man. “You don’t know what to do because you don’t know how to cope, you don’t know how to think. I just don’t — all I know is I’m sorry for his mother.”
Holloway, who grew up in the neighborhood but now lives in Yeadon, did not immediately fault the officers for the fatal shooting. He said police and the community share “no common ground” and many officers “don’t know our neighborhood.”
“This is a predominantly Black neighborhood,” Holloway said. “We should have 30 or 50 percent [of police] around us that knows the struggle.”
A community meeting was scheduled at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at The Church of Christian Compassion, at 6121 Cedar Ave., to address the fatal police shooting.
Smith, who has spent her entire life living on the block, said she feared for her neighborhood and city after the fatal shooting. When asked whether she felt comfortable calling the police if she had an issue, she hesitated.
“I’m not sure that I would,” Smith said. “I don’t know. That’s something I would have to think about.”