A solid petition regarding officer-involved shootings presented by a Philadelphia City Council candidate.
Mr. Isaiah Thomas, who announced his candidacy for Philadelphia City Council at-large last month with a modest gathering in front of the high school that’s printed on his diploma, has had both good and bad encounters with law enforcement.
Like a large number of black men in America, Mr. Thomas, a lover of sports, hip-hop and politics, has been placed in the back of a police car for walking while black and has been subject to several stop and frisks.
Those encounters, while intimidating, de-mascluating and humiliating, didn’t deter Mr. Thomas from wanting to engage and change the system in a meaningful way; particularly in the area of public safety; more specifically, working with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey – who was recently appointed by President Barack Obama to lead his Task Force on 21st Century Policing – to federally mandate what police training looks like across the country.
In the aftermath of Ferguson, Mr. Thomas has launched a petition on Change.org where he’s asking the Pennsylvanians to support a bill that would require independent reviews to all officer-involved fatalities, while also drug testing all officers involved.
Wisconsin was the first state to enact this type of legislation after a young man named Michael E. Bell was killed by four police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin – Mr. Thomas hopes Pennsylvania is next.
And though he’s in full campaign mode – donor calls, door knocking and meet-and-greets – Mr. Thomas assures me that his post-Ferguson petition isn’t about politics, but something much more important: justice for grieving families.
“When citizens speak, elected officials and thought leaders should respond,” he said, “the biggest outcry in the streets right now is about the lack of justice.”
While he appreciates the nationwide protesters that are affirming the value of black lives, the Philly-native also understand the need for solutions and progressive politics. His foundation, he says, in the Freedom School movement has contributed to his sense of strategic and sound activism.
You may not see him in the street doing die-ins – although you may spot his team members – but Mr. Thomas wants his community to know that he’s working with organizations across to city to improve police and community relations, that black lives – all lives – have always mattered to him and that this latest petition isn’t a relative of political convenience, but more of a testament to who he is and what’s in his DNA: servant leadership.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™