Thursday marked two years since a White Philadelphia police officer, during a traffic stop in the Frankford section of the City, shot and killed a 26 year-old Black man named Mr. Brandon Tate-Brown while he was unarmed and fleeing; it was a story that eventually went national, though there were great efforts to suppress it, and led to the deceased’s mother becoming apart of Mrs. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign via the ‘Mothers of the Movement.’
Because the 15th District police officer named Mr. Nicholas Carrelli is perceived as not having been held accountable for the murder – despite his initial statement that Mr. Tate-Brown was reaching into his car for a gun being noted as a falsehood – and due to Philadelphia District Attorney Mr. Seth Williams, who’s seeking re-election in 2017, not re-opening the investigation once a new narrative of the fatal officer-involved shooting emerged, nearly two dozen protesters braved unbearable cold weather Thursday evening to express their outrage at a system, though which failed them, could, too, be redeemed.
A very small opportunity for redemption, one which the District Attorney could avail himself of exclusively, was presented by a man of the cloth who, though initially trusting in the official report that was later discredited by then Police Commissioner Mr. Charles Ramsey, has become a friend of the Tate-Brown family and one of their most vocal advocates.
Rev. Mark Tyler, who last year said he would oppose the re-election campaign of Mr. Williams if he didn’t re-open the criminal investigation, on Thursday called for the District Attorney to apply his newly unveiled police transparency protocol retroactively so that the office’s investigative file on the shooting of Mr. Tate-Brown can be made public.
Rev. Tyler spoke his piece in front of City Hall, after performing a prayer at the protest’s onset, and the protesters then marched to the Office of the District Attorney, where they blocked traffic for 15 minutes or so, while shouting their grievances over the sounds of blaring horns from drivers visibly frustrated that their commute came to an abrupt stop.
Mr. Brinkley, prior to the march around City Hall, said opposing Mr. Williams, and backing the right candidate who can defeat him, is a priority of his.
The length for which rush-hour drivers were inconvenienced while protesters chanted appeared to be, to police officers, a nuisance for which arrest seemed imminent. A popular Black Lives Matter activist and a cousin to the Tate-Brown family, Mr. Asa Khalif, who called their protest an occupation of Center City Philadelphia’s street – “We don’t give a mother-f*ck about being arrested. We told you motherf*ckers we would f*cking occupy these streets in the name of Brandon Tate-Brown” – told the observing officers that he was indifference to the threat of arrest and would move on his decision alone, not their command.
Mrs. Tanya Brown-Dickerson, the grieving mother who over the years became an activist and a symbol of undeniable strength and persistence, unleashed a verbal fury at the officers upon hearing of a possible arrest. Mrs. Brown-Dickerson, anticipating a civil trial against the City of Philadelphia next year, questioned how the protesters could be arrested and not the officer who killed Mr. Tate-Brown, her firstborn, the humorous child who she said taught her how to be a mother.
It was Mr. Tate-Brown’s death that propelled Mrs. Brown-Dickerson into the world of activism, and it’s the looming injustice – Brandon wasn’t just killed, but beaten to the point of a disfigured face, murdered then slandered in the news media, she argued – that inspires her continuity.
“Ya’ll woke up a beast in me,” she shouted at the police before relinquishing the bullhorn and returning back to her position in the blockade.
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Photo courtesy of the author.