Yesterday evening, I had a brief phone conversation with a Ms. Jan Murphy, who penned the story that is linked below. PennLive/The Patriot-News was alerted to a public post I made on my personal Facebook page that I run under my middle name comparing police officers to snakes.
I have subsequently been accused of being racist and disrespectful. But what has routinely been racist, disrespectful, and downright dangerous in this city and others all over the U.S. for black and brown people is the institution of police. I will not delve into statistics and post links here, but there is an embarrassing wealth of evidence that reveals long-term systemic mistreatment of black and brown people by police officers–harassment, excessive surveillance, excessive force that often results in civilian deaths that cannot be justified.
The police department here routinely fails in holding itself accountable for its questionable actions, and escapes consequences for what they visit upon black and brown people, who make up the majority of Harrisburg’s population. We as Harrisburg residents have only to look upon the shooting death of Shaleek Pinckney, a 20-year-old black man, in August 2016, and the subsequent clearing of Officer Tony Elliott, who killed him, to know there is a problem here.
Also, I find it extremely irresponsible for Ms. Murphy and by extension PennLive/The Patriot-News to publish a story about my post and link to it Dennis DeVoe, the dedicated firefighter who tragically lost his life in a car crash. This has likely led people to believe that I am against all public safety workers. I am making this clear right now: while there is a known problem within firehouses regarding racial diversity and acceptance (and that must change), there is not a known problem of firefighters also practicing anti-blackness and other forms of prejudice in their job duties that consistently result in needless harassment, brutality and loss of life. I am disappointed and angered by Ms. Murphy’s and PennLive/The Patriot-News’ choice to publish such reckless content.
I leave you all with this: As a candidate for City Council, I stand by my remark made on my personal Facebook page. I am not here to walk it back to make certain people more comfortable. I am an activist first and foremost, unapologetic about my pro-black stance and my ardent desire for drastic police reform. If elected to City Council, I will continue as a catalyst for positive, progressive change from the bottom up. I will continue as an advocate for greater accountability and transparency within Harrisburg’s police force. I will continue as an advocate for alternative training programs that enact peaceful community policing and decrease the militarization of the department. For those who share my vision and hopes for the future of Harrrisburg, I thank you for your support and hope to see you out at the polls on May 16th.