Minister Rodney Muhammad, who’s the president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, on Thursday called for the District Attorney’s Office to press charges against a shopkeeper who, after being robbed last Sunday afternoon, chased the 41 year-old suspect outside out of the store while firing his legally-owned gun, shooting twice Mr. Marcus Quinones, who tossed up in the air the money he moments earlier allegedly stole, and an innocent bystander in the hand.
Mr. Muhammad calls himself putting pressure on the DA’s Office, which characterized the incident as an open investigation, though he’ll also readily admit he has no confidence in the scandal-plagued institution.
The demand to file charges against the store owner, whose believed to be both non-white and non-black, is, indeed, sincere, but also at play is an effort by Mr. Muhammad to highlight the “flaws” of the DA’s office, where earlier this week citizens convened to demand the resignation of Philadelphia District Attorney Mr. Seth Williams, who has been indicted on 23 counts of corruption.
“You can’t claim you feared for your life if the threat was running away.”
Mr. Muhammad – who has been challenging the DA’s office on what he believes to be an unfair sentence sought and received for imprisoned demolition contractor Mr. Griffin Campbell due to his role in the 2013 Salvation Army thrift store disaster – says his involvement in pushing for charges isn’t about race, but it very much is.
The civil rights leader – who said if the reckless shooter was black he’d likely be in jail by now – contends that many inner-city shopkeepers, like the unnamed North Philadelphia Laundromat owner who shot at a fleeing individual, are insensitive to the community, non-participants in fostering true neighborhoods, and routinely devalue the lives of black folks.
“The merchants that are primarily in our community don’t bank with us… they don’t reinvest… they’re only there to make money,” Rev. Muhammad said. “I’m tired of merchants having their way with our community,” he added.
The Philadelphia Police Department did their job, said Mr. Muhammad, who notified me that he already talked to Police Commissioner Mr. Richard Ross about this incident. What’s left to do now is for the DA’s office, where the morale is said be uber low, to pursue charges, the minister told me by phone this afternoon.
Once upon a time Min. Muhammad had great faith in the DA’s office, but no longer does he feel that way. Like many Philadelphians, Min. Muhammad has buyer’s remorse about the vote he cast for Mr. Williams.
“We had a DA that has failed us,” the minister admitted, before telling me he had publicly apologized to many voters because he was “one of the first” to back Mr. Williams and encourage others to do the same.
The minister, once Mr. Williams seemed to favor the death penalty, appeared to have too cozy of a relationship with the police commissioner and was finding reasons not to charge cops, realized the man who in 2010 became the City’s first African-American District Attorney wasn’t as advertised. Min. Muhammad hasn’t yet called for the DA’s resignation, but hinted that the circumstances could soon change.
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Photo courtesy of the author.