Are The Philadelphia Police Secretly At War With All Black Youth, Or Is The City Really This Close To Rioting Every Weekend?
When we arrived at the TLA on Saturday night for the Femi Kuti concert (amazing, btw — somebody book this guy for Welcome America next year, please), it was impossible not to notice how there were nearly as many cops as people. All kinds of cops, too — mounted police, a full brigade of cops on motorcycles, state troopers, the usual bike cops, hell, even Chief Ramsey himself was stationed at 4th and South — and after a quick poll, we’d mutually decided that this must have been some kind of preemptive strike for what we were guessing was that annual object of civic dread, the Greek Picnic. One problem: The Greek Picnic didn’t really happen this year — but its shitty ghost remained, and the cops were there on Saturday night to fight that ghost. Eventually, later that night, some fights broke out, and the police were handily able to justify their presence there. But it got us to thinking: What kind of crazy temperature is the City running these days that this kind of buildup and conflict occurs when nothing is happening at all? And then that, of course, threw us back to something we were saying during the whole flash mob craze: Could so much of this be happening because these kids feel like Center City is somehow not for them, and that the only way they believe they can experience it is like this, en masse in a borderline riot state? And when did it become the police’s job to scrub Center City of black youth on the weekends? We know they’re there to protect and serve, of course, but on the news the next night, when we saw the SEPTA busses that had been rolled in to take all of these kids back home, we got a very unpleasant feeling indeed.