Protesters oppose fund-raiser for officer

Posted: October 29, 2012

Oscar Rosario is not anti-police, he said. He's just anti-police brutality.

"The police motto is honor, integrity, service," said Rosario, who stood in the middle of Spring Garden Street Sunday afternoon, waving a Puerto Rican flag. "We want them to show that. All we want is justice."

Rosario was one of dozens who gathered in a brisk, pre-Hurricane Sandy wind to protest outside a fund-raiser held for Philadelphia Police Lt. Jonathan D. Josey II, the officer fired for punching a woman after the Puerto Rican Day parade last month.

A video recorded at the parade shows Josey striking Aida Guzman of Chester, knocking her to the ground and bloodying her face. Guzman had been arrested for disorderly conduct; police apparently thought she was throwing liquid at a group of officers.

The fund-raiser was run not by the FOP, but by friends of Josey. Any member of the FOP is entitled to use its hall for a fund-raiser once a year.

Money raised at the $30-per-person event will go to help Josey with day-to-day expenses, officials have said.

FOP members standing outside the hall said they would have no comment on Josey, the fund-raiser, or the protesters.

Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey has said he was "deeply troubled" by what he saw in the video. Mayor Nutter extended a personal apology to Guzman and said "we're all outraged" by the violence shown on the video.

Quetcy Lozada, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, helped organize the event, which drew a multiracial crowd.

"We want a fair investigation and a fair punishment," said Lozada, 42, of North Philadelphia. "They're making this a Puerto Rican issue, but it's not. This doesn't just happen in the Latino community."

Lozada said she had expected 500 protesters before Sandy surfaced, but that weather shifted people's plans. Still, she said, she expected a strong showing, with representatives from several groups, including Occupy Philadelphia.

"We respect the police," Lozada said. "We believe in their authority. But police need to understand that aggressiveness is not necessary."

Many in the community do not understand the distinction between the FOP and the police department, Lozada said.

"To us, this is the police condoning Lt. Josey," she said of the fund-raiser.

Lozada said she fears members of the Latino community will act differently toward the police in light of the Josey incident - be less trusting, quicker to move against them if threatened.

"The officers on the street need more training," she said. "This is dangerous for the men in blue."

Margarita Padin held a sign nearly as tall as she was. "Josey," it read in bold, red letters. "Cobadre. Pendejo. Criminal."

(Coward. Idiot. Criminal.")

Padin said her thoughts were with Guzman.

"She has the right to celebrate at the Puerto Rican Day parade without having an assault against her," said Padin, 48, of North Philadelphia. "We're here against police brutality, against people who are supporting people who commit acts of police brutality."

Padin and others said they are still hoping that Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams elects to bring charges against Josey.

Had she punched someone on the street, with hundreds of witnesses looking on, "I would be locked up," Padin said. "Assault is a crime."

Mike Randazzo, a 27-year-old from Yardley who's affiliated with a group called Truth, Freedom, Prosperity, agreed.

"Badges," Randazzo said, "shouldn't grant you extra rights."


Contact Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146, kgraham@phillynews.com or on Twitter @newskag. Read her blog, "Philly School Files," at www.philly.com/schoolfiles.

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