Nearly 2 hours of anger aimed at Phila. police

Posted: July 12, 2014

A U.S. Justice Department team listened for nearly two hours Thursday evening as angry Philadelphians lashed out at the Police Department for what they called a long history of unjustified shootings of young black males by white officers.

At turns screaming, crying, or simply glaring straight ahead, a series of residents, most of them African American, including several mothers who said their sons had been unjustly shot by police, approached a microphone in City Council chambers and spoke of their pain.

"We are angry and we want results," yelled one speaker, a member of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Action Network, an advocacy group. "My son was executed," shouted another woman.

The Justice Department and its private consultants had called the hearing as part of a comprehensive review of the use of deadly force by Philadelphia police. In June 2013, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who attended the hearing, asked for the study after reviewing figures that showed police had fatally shot or wounded 52 people in 2012, the most since he became commissioner in 2008.

About 80 people turned out at the hearing, some wearing T-shirts that read, "No Justice No Peace," others carrying pictures of lost loved ones.

Afterward, Tawana Waugh, a senior program specialist with the Justice Department, said the department's consultants would use the information in a report they intend to issue this fall on police use of deadly force.

The report from CNA Analysis & Solutions, a nonprofit research group, is expected to list recommendations for lessening unjustified shootings.

Some speakers berated Ramsey and the Justice Department, accusing them of running a "dog and pony show."

Ramsey said afterward that he attended because, while the stories of shootings were hard to listen to, he could use the information to better his force.

Asked if his officers had a problem with unjustified shootings, Ramsey said: "No. But I think if one incident occurs, it is one too many."


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