Philadelphia, PA — Video has surfaced showing two as-yet unidentified Philadelphia police officers saying they’re going to shoot a group of young, black men.
Local FOX 29 reports the officers, in the somewhat muffled brief video, approached the small group sitting on a stoop in hopes they would provide information. When they refused, the tone of the encounter quickly soured.
“Come on y’all, they might be gonna shoot us,” a young man says as he stands to walk away from the cops.
As the camera turns away, a voice almost certain to be one of the officer’s glibly states, “Not all of you — just one.”
A viewer sent the concise 44-second video clip to FOX 29, and the outlet claims since they could not identify the cops to offer a chance to rebut or explain themselves, it was necessary to blur their faces.
Asked for his opinion by the station during a preview event for the Hero Thrill Show, Police Commissioner Richard Ross viewed the inflammatory footage.
“There’s no doubt the context is difficult to deny. We’re going to have to figure out who made that comment and obviously it’s highly inappropriate,” Ross told FOX 29, appearing visibly upset by what he’d seen.
To say relations between police departments around the country and the communities in which they enforce the law are strained would be a laughable understatement.
Charlotte stands tattered, broken, and in flames from riots after Charlotte-Mecklenburg police killed Keith Lamont Scott as he waited for his son after school in circumstances yet to be clarified or explained. Tulsa fared better after the release of the video documenting the shooting death of Terence Crutcher by Officer Betty Shelby — who has since been charged with first-degree manslaughter. Both the public disclosure of the shocking video and what many feel are insufficient charges levied against Shelby, protests there remained as angry as in Charlotte, but nonviolent.
Of course, these killings are just two of thousands at the hands of law enforcement, an epidemic level and exceedingly contentious issue which has pitted police and their unapologetic supporters against concerned citizens and minorities who understandably feel targeted by police for their skin color.
Most casual uses of deadly or brutal force earn a departmental paid vacation followed by precious little, and most frequently zero, disciplinary action — much less proportionate punishment.
Police culture has thus cultivated an atmosphere where officers feel they can get away with murder — since they can and often do — making comments like that from the unidentified Philadelphia officer somewhat of a telling inside joke.
“They’re not facing justice,” Asa Khalif of Philadelphia Black Lives Matter told FOX 29. “It’s open season when it comes to law enforcement targeting black and brown people.”
People of every conceivable race have fallen victim to police violence, but disproportionately so among minority populations.
In the incident captured on video, the officers are attempting to cull information from people in a neighborhood in which they have not cultivated a relationship. In other words, the outsider cops expect people to snitch — possibly on friends, neighbors, and family members.
Rochelle Bilal, president of the police union representing black, Hispanic, and Asian officers, laments the hypocrisy in such an expectation, saying cops need to ‘practice what they preach.’
“You just have to stand up for the truth. Stand up for what’s right,” she told FOX 29. “If there’s a bad cop out there, the good cops need to stand up against that.”
Barring a massive overhaul of American policing — which appears highly unlikely since even smaller, critical palliatives, such as officer liability insurance, have yet to be tried on a wide scale — activists, advocates, and civil liberties groups have all called for officers with integrity to blow the whistle on those with none.
Until then, the officer who told the young men he’d only shoot one of them has yet to be identified — since his partner never spoke up or called him out.