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Wednesday, May 07, 2008
If the news hasn't trickled down here to University City yet, that video is from an arrest made late Monday night in North Philly. Police were chasing the car after a narcottics surveillence ended in a shooting (sparse details, I don't know if anyone was injured) and when the chase ended, the cops beat the three suspects for a solid thirty seconds before everyone calmed down.
Excessive force by police, particularly against minority suspects, is a very delicate issue in big cities, and Philadelphia is no exception. Our city of brotherly love has a very checkered past regarding the relationship between the black community and the police, but it's something that has been improving over the years. Former police commissioner Johnson worked diligently to facilitate communication between police and the community, not always successfully, fighting the "don't snitch" mentality tooth and nail. Read this piece from the city paper last year about the police shooting on Tasker for a sense of the frustration on both sides.
I do have sympathy for the police involved in this incident. Philadelphia police officers have an impossible and dangerous job. It's difficult to imagine leaving your family every morning to go to work knowing that you could be shot and killed any day.
Nonetheless, this force was clearly excessive, regardless of whether an investigation has been conducted yet. The cops clearly let loose a lot of pent up anger, probably related to the recent murder of Sgt. Liczbinski. I don't know what the solution to all this is, or if there even is one, but the bottom line is that the behavior displayed on that video is completely unacceptable.