Philadelphians react to Police ViolencePhiladelphia 18 Aug 2005 15:38 GMT
On Wednesday, June 29th, Sharonne "Fat Daddy" Coachman, a father of five young sons who was also alleged to have been involved in drug activity, died in the custody of Philadelphia's Narcotics Strike Force on Wednesday June 29th at 51st & Market. Police defended their actions, stating that they had been attempting to save his life; other community members state that, in fact, police pepper-sprayed Coachman, then beat him over the head and choked him with nightsticks. Uhuru, a Philadelphia branch of an international organization that works against police brutality, organized a demonstration in support of Coachman's family on Saturday, July 2nd. At that demonstration police from Philadelphia's 18th District also arrested two supporters, who allege that they were also beaten by police. Uhuru responded with a commnity meeting at 502 S. 52nd Street at noon on Saturday, July 9th, and a press conference ( http://www.phillyimc.org/en/2005/06/16154.shtml). Uhuru then organized another demonstration on July 18th at 10:00 a.m. marching from Allegheny and F Streets to the 24th Police Precinct at 3901 Whitaker Avenue in Kensington, Philadelphia, in response to the continuing acts of police brutality. Their flyer for this event reads in part, "15-year-old Raynerdo Jones was severely beaten by Philadelphia police on Wednesday, July 13th, suffering a broken jaw, fractured neck, and swollen leg. ... His brother Michael and uncle Kevin - who are both disabled - were beaten over the head and knocked out by police night-sticks when they came up to the scene, and taken to the police van. ... Raynerdo went to the hospital and remains in police custody." Philadelphia has been condemned by the international human-rights-monitoring organization Human Rights Watch, in their reports, "The Philadelphia Videotape: Questions Unanswered About Police Behavior" ( http://www.hrw.org/press/2000/07/police714-add.htm) and "Shielded from Justice: Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States" ( http://www.hrw.org/reports98/police/uspo108.htm). Those who witness or suffer police brutality can file complaints with Philadelphia's Police Advisory Commission, http://www.phila.gov/pac/complaints.html but local news coverage of police brutality is still few and far between.