[OP-ED]: “Paralyzed Man Demands City Council End Its Paralysis In Acting Against Abusive Policing”
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Last week, two members of Council, including Council’s President, announced a measure to provide a permanent funding source for Philadelphia’s beleaguered Police Advisory Commission (PAC), the non-Police Department body that investigates complaints of abuses by police from disrespectful behaviors to false arrests and fatal shootings.
The announcement of this funding measure came shortly after anti-police brutality protestors were literally dragged from Council’s chamber by police and a wheel-chair-bound police brutality victim – paralyzed from an awful shooting – delivered an impassioned plea to Council members about the overdue need to rein in abusive police.
This measure, that needs an amendment to the City Charter, would provide minimum $500,000 annual funding for the PAC. City Council President Darrell Clarke stated in a press release that guaranteed funding provides the PAC with some “much-need” certainty.
“Not only will [the PAC] be able to meet pressing personnel needs right away, they will be able to plan for the near and long-term…improving police accountability,” Clarke stated in that press release.
This measure was introduced by Councilman Curtis Jones about one year ago and received little support from his Council colleagues – a do-nothing stance that drives the demands for action from anti-police brutality activists.
(Note: All members of the Philadelphia Police Department are not abusive! But too much police abuse persists, particularly in Philadelphia’s black and Latino communities. Support from the Philadelphia’s police union and disgusting silence from sectors as diverse as fellow police officers, politicians, pastors and, yes, members of the public, virtually sanctions police abuse.)
Councilmembers Jones and Clarke are correct in contending that PAC funding must escape the whims of a particular mayoral administration.
In 1993 then Mayor Ed Rendell opposed creation of the PAC – the same Rendell who entered Philadelphia political life over a dozen years earlier as a District Attorney who campaigned to corral police brutality.
The Councilman who fought to create the PAC – Michael Nutter – defunded the PAC during his tenure as mayor.
One opponent of that 1993 PAC creation is Councilman Brian O’Neill, who recent sparked outrage by refusing to condemn racist remarks by the president of Philadelphia’s police union. Another 1993 PAC opponent was Councilman James Kenney, Philadelphia’s current mayor – who did condemn the racist police union president but has so far reneged on mayoral campaign promises to end racist Stop-&-Frisk policing.
To successfully end police brutality “politicians who hold public office must be visible,” stated an August 1972 editorial in a Philadelphia newspaper that reminded elected officials that they must act “in the interest of those who have selected them as their spokesman.”
That impassioned plea to Councilmembers last week came from Carnell Williams-Carney, who was shot in the back and paralyzed in 2010 by Ryan Pownall, the same policeman whose fatal June 2017 back-shooting of David Jones, has sparked outrage and protests.
The cover-up of Pownall’s wrongful 2010 shooting, Williams-Carney said, produced Jones’ 2017 death.