Video footage of Chester, PA, resident Aida Guzman, a Puerto Rican female, being brutality assault by a male police officer is difficult to watch; you can clearly see Guzman being approached in a threatening manner by the officer, then punched at least twice, as bystanders are obviously shocked and fearful to come to her defense. Thankfully, it was all captured by a cell phone camera. The attack took place at Philadelphia's annual Puerto Rican Day Parade, a day of celebration for the whole city and an event Guzman has not missed in nearly two decades. However, the attack may keep her from attending in the future.
All it took was a misunderstanding about some liquid being flung at the officer for such a violent overreaction. Since the unwarranted attack, the officer, Lieutenant Jonathan D. Josey II, was placed on administrative suspension and has been fired by Commissioner Charles Ramsey. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Ramsey referred to the incident as "troubling."
In the confusion, not only was Guzman struck by a uniformed officer, she was arrested for disorderly conduct; charges against the victim have since been dropped. It was the last straw for a community that has long bore the brunt of police misconduct, often in the form of mistreatment. To add insult to injury, the Fraternal Order of Police has planned a party in honor of the dismissed officer; it is scheduled for October 28th.
The Sordid Past of the Philadelphia Police Department
Philadelphia has a disturbing history of police violence and violations of civil rights. In 1985, as a response to alleged complaints by neighbors about peaceful but radical group called MOVE occupying a row house in Cobbs Creek, the police department bombed the dwelling on Osage Aveune in the West Philadelphia neighborhood. According to CNN, "The fire destroyed 61 row houses, including MOVE's, and left 250 people homeless. Of the 11 people killed in the fire, five were children." Just four years prior, Mumia Abu-Jamal (a radio journalist who had reported on MOVE's prior legal troubles and given the group positive media exposure) became involved in an altercation with an officer who had his younger brother pulled over for an assumed traffic violation, resulting in his being shot and the officer's contentious death at the scene; Abu-Jamal was later sentenced to death for this (though he is now serving life without parole), in what is still believed by many to be court assisted police corruption. The police department has maintained notoriety for its rather consistent and pervasive mistreatment of Philadelphians, especially minorities, including Puerto Ricans.