10 signatures reached
To: Mayor Jim Kenney, City of Philadelphia
Mayor Kenney: Restore Transparency on the Police Brutality Database in Philadelphia
Mayor Kenney -
Your decision to gut the spirit of the executive order you signed in 2017 to publish reports of police brutality in our city is disappointing and embarrassing. At a time when over 300 of our police officers have been shown to communicate racist, homophobic, and violent content on their social media platforms, it is essential that the public get as much information as possible about the complaints our communities have about the behavior of the police in our neighborhoods.
I am asking you to restore the full content of the police database reports now, to commit along with the police to publishing reports in their original form, and to work with Council and the Special Committee on Criminal Justice Reform to hold hearings on public access to police complaints and investigations.
Why is this important?
Heads up - it just became a lot, lot harder to find out if the police officers in your neighborhood are brutalizing Black and Brown communities.
When Jim Kenney was elected mayor, he recognized the lack of trust between communities and their police, in a city with massive over-policing (1) and prosecution of Black and Brown people. So in 2017, he followed the lead of other major cities like Chicago (2) and New York, and signed an executive order mandating that data on police complaints would be published online every month - instead of just available to see in person at the Internal Affairs Bureau of the police department.
But news outlet Billy Penn is reporting (3) that the Mayor has removed “grim or embarrassing” reports from the database, and that the database will now strip all identifying information about the offending police from the records, making it all but impossible for neighbors to know what cops are acting out - and for watchdogs and journalists to tell the story of police brutality in Philadelphia.
Billy Penn reporters Ryan Briggs and Max Marin provided a harrowing example of the differences between the reports after their whitewashing - a Black man run off his bicycle by plainclothes cops in an unmarked car, then handcuffed and detained for hours before receiving medical treatment. See if you can spot the differences:
"The complainant, TW, 36/B/M, states that he was physically abused by Officers W and G, 17th District. According to the complainant, on 5-24-15, at 10:10 PM, he was riding his bicycle near 20th & Wharton Streets when someone called to him from a car. He continued riding his bicycle and was struck him from behind by the vehicle. The complainant was knocked from the bicycle to the ground. He was then handcuffed and searched by the occupants of the vehicle before being transported to the hospital for treatment by two uniformed officers. The complainant maintains he did not know the operators of the vehicle that knocked him from his bicycle were plainclothes officers. He maintains they did not identify themselves to him as police officers, nor was he arrested or charged with a crime in connection with this incident."
But after the whitewashing, the complaint looks like this:
According to the complainant, on 5-24-15 at 10:10pm, they were physically abused by officers assigned to the 17th District.
Summary reports of alleged police abuse in Chicago (4) are far more detailed than either style of report we have in Philly, with reports sorted into categories for analysis by watchdogs, press, and the public. But in Kenney’s new version of summary reports for Philly, we don’t have anything: the initials of the officers, the race of the person the police allegedly knocked off his bike, or any details of the brutal story that lets us even try to hold police accountable.
In a city where at least 300 police officers were shown to be putting racist, violent, and homophobic content onto their personal social media feeds (5), we need more public accountability for police and their behavior to Black, Brown, queer, immigrant, and poor people, not less.
Sign this petition to Mayor Kenney: move right now to restore all the data to the police accountability database.
For more information:
(1) “In racially diverse 14th District, Philly police target black drivers 3 times more than whites, analysis shows,” By Bobby Allyn and Maura Ewing, January 11, 2019, WHYY. https://whyy.org/articles/in-racially-diverse-14th-district-philly-police-target-black-drivers-3-times-more-than-whites-analysis-shows/
(2) Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), City of Chicago: Publications. https://www.chicagocopa.org/news-publications/publications/
(3) "After promising increased transparency, Philadelphia is redacting police complaint records." Max Marin and Ryan Briggs, July 26th, 2019, Billy Penn. https://billypenn.com/2019/07/26/after-promising-increased-transparency-philadelphia-is-redacting-police-complaint-records/
(5) "13 Philadelphia Officers to Be Fired Over Racist, Violent Facebook Posts," by Alicia Victoria Lozano, July 18th, 2019, NBC 10. https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Philadelphia-Police-Officers-Facebook-Posts-512891921.html