Protesters denounce fund-raiser for fired officer who punched woman

Margarita Padin holds a sign reading "Coward. Idiot. Criminal" at a protest in the Spring Garden section.
Margarita Padin holds a sign reading "Coward. Idiot. Criminal" at a protest in the Spring Garden section. (KRISTEN GRAHAM / Staff)
Posted: October 29, 2012

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

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

Rosario was one of about 100 people who gathered in a brisk, pre-Hurricane Sandy wind to protest outside a fund-raiser for Philadelphia Police Lt. Jonathan D. Josey II, the officer fired after punching a woman following 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 at the Fraternal Order of Police hall 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.

FOP president John McNesby did come out and offer the protesters the use of bathrooms, along with hot chocolate and coffee, protest leaders said.

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 that before Sandy approached she had expected 500 protesters but that weather changed people's plans.

"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 feared that members of the Latino community would act differently toward the police in light of the Josey incident - be less trusting, or be 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. " Cobarde. 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."

Pain and others said they were 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."

After the crowd dissipated, Lozada said that McNesby of the FOP had agreed to sit down with her group and members of other organizations that organize parades to determine how to prevent future problems.

"We're very much looking forward to that," said Lozada, who said an invitation would also be extended to city police officials.


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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