Something interesting happened in Philadelphia this week and it didn’t get the attention it deserved, largely due to City residents, news media included, preoccupied still on the election of Mr. Donald Trump, a political novice, to the Office of President. A shocking occurrence, Mr. Trump’s triumph over Mrs. Hillary Clinton is, indeed, newsworthy, but it shouldn’t, it can’t, overshadow for much longer local politics rather it should encourage frustrated voters to pursue truth and justice by involving themselves to a greater degree in the political happenings in their respective locales.
Philadelphia, since the election, has seen large anti-Trump protests, but also in the City was a re-branding of sorts by the Mayor that’s inconsistent with the political stance of Police Commissioner Mr. Richard Ross.
Mayor Jim Kenney – who endorsed Mrs. Clinton for president but extended congratulations to president-elect Trump in the wake of his victory – announced Thursday that Philadelphia is no longer identified as a sanctuary city, a place where local law enforcement refuses to cooperate with federal immigration officers seeking the detainment of undocumented immigrants, instead we are to call it the Fourth Amendment city.
The name change is being sold to the public as a brand reflective of the City’s standards.
“We respect and live up to the Fourth Amendment, which means you can’t be held against your will without a warrant from the court signed by a judge. So yeah, we will continue to be a Fourth Amendment city abiding by the constitution,” the Mayor told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Kudos I give to Mayor Kenney for his consistent stance on this issue. However, going as far as calling Philadelphia a Fourth Amendment city is a bit hyperbolic considering Mr. Ross, when presented in public with an inquiry as to whether or not he would require stop-and-frisk to be executed under the Fourth Amendment standard of probable cause, said he would not; despite both having the power to make that reform possible and the City’s long established pattern of stopping black and brown men without reasonable suspicion, which, as a result of a consent decree, is, and was long ago, to be mitigated.
The Mayor, providing further reasoning for the name change, said “we have no authority to violate the Fourth Amendment,” but in fact, it’s violated quite often in Philadelphia, and has been for some time now.
Not only is the Fourth Amendment standard of probable cause, due to a 1968 Supreme Court ruling, not applied here or elsewhere to pedestrian stops, which occur with the most frequency and brute force in black and brown neighborhoods, but the lesser standard of reasonable suspicion is also circumvented by police officers who are either lazy, bored, racist or incompetent.
Philadelphia may aspire to be a Fourth Amendment city, and that’s admirable, but it is not one today and surely wasn’t one yesterday or the years that preceded this week, though it could easily become one if Mr. Ross, at either the behest of the Mayor or as the result of soul-searching, embraces his autonomy, chooses to be a bold leader, and opts for innovation over the status quo.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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