Rally

Demonstrators gathered in front of the statue of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo Thursday morning. The protesters condemned the sculpture and are calling on the Philadelphia City Council to reform the police department. — TRIBUNE PHOTO BY SAMARIA BAILEY

A group of about 50 demonstrators demanded an end to policing in Black communities during a rally at the Frank Rizzo statue on Thursday morning.

The rally was organized by the Black is Back Coalition, who believes Black people need to have their own policing system.

“We’ve been dong outreach in front of the Frank Rizzo statue for a while. And we don’t want anything to get misconstrued. The racist symbols need to come down but this is much more than just about bringing the Rizzo statue down,” said Anthony Smith, a Coalition organizer who stated the list of demands. “We are less concerned about symbolism than we are concerned about real changes in our community and Black community control of police and our own resources.”

Referring to an afro pick that was recently placed near the Rizzo statue, Smith said “tampering with statues and building picks is not the solution that we need.” He pushed for a stark, radical change.

“If you constantly show me you are inadequate and aren’t doing what you are supposed to do, then you need to go,” Smith said. “It is not ridiculous to be anti-police. It makes sense. Whatever circumstance you operate in, whether it’s in the classroom, on your jobs, on your block [or] with your people, we need to instill an anti-police culture because they do not work.”

Then denouncing Black police officers, Smith said, “they have chosen this side. You know you wrong everyday you wake up.”

Smith and organizers marched around City Hall and then marched into City Council’s weekly session to articulated their list of demands, which included:

Adoption of Black Community Control of Police resolution for city council.

Removal of the Rizzo statue.

The right to censor white nationalist rhetoric.

Seizure of the Philadelphia police budget for economic development to serve the collective interests of the Black community.

And Justice for all victims of police murder through an independent investigation and subpoena process led by the Black Community Control of Police commission,” among other items.

During the public comment period of Asa Khalif of Black Lives Matter cited the shooting death of David Jones by recently suspended Philadelphia police officer Ryan Pownall as an example of rogue policing that has consistently affected the Black community.

Khalif then assisted and introduced to city council Carnell Williams-Carney, a Black man who was paralyzed after he was shot in the back by Pownall in 2010.

“We want justice for David Jones but we also want justice for all Black and brown people that were victimized under this police officer. Him being fired is not enough,” Khalif said. “We want the pig officer arrested and we want him locked up with the rest of the murderers.”

Megan Malachi, a coalition organizer, criticized City Councilman President Darrell Clarke and other City Council members for not responding to the demand that Black communities have their own policing.

“We are tired of police terrorizing us,” said Malachi. “You need to answer why you have not accepted this ... [and] all you Black politicians sitting here ... are complicit as well.”

Clarke did not immediately respond but after the session was adjourned, said he did not have oversight over the police force.

“There are some things on there that probably have some merit and we should figure out how to adopt them, but the simple reality is I am not the mayor. I am not the police commissioner. They are not things I have the authority to do,” Clarke said. “Today we introduced legislation that will allow us to codify the funding for the police advisory commission. The money has gone up, it’s gone down; it’s been as low as $250,000, which is clearly not adequate. And I don’t think the existing executive order as it relates to the police advisory commission is sufficient and we will move towards changing that.

“It’s a process,” he said. “The fact that people feel this level of frustration — they don’t feel that there’s the appropriate oversight. They don’t think they have a voice in terms of things they see that are not right. We have to figure out a way to make them right.”

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