A response to Mayor Kenney’s open letter

Below you will find the text of a letter from Mayor Kenney to Philadelphians, concerning city plans for what happens after the Derek Chauvin verdict is announced. That letter preceded by a weepy, wokey statement sprinkled with his sweet confection of white guilt. “Systemic racism” and inequity are endlessly repeated, crossing the line from empathy to embarrassment. He lays it on thick.

Speaking in sorrow, Mayor Jim Kenney (Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer)

You are free to wade through it, but first is my letter to Mayor Kenney.

Dear Mayor Kenney:

Most Philadelphians share your belief that the U.S. has a history of racial (and other) injustice that continues to this day, in some amount. 

But most Philadelphians — Black, white, brown, yellow, red — know there is no excuse for violence, arson, theft, assault and vandalism. Your words point to amnesia that you were elected to serve all Philadelphians, not just minorities (and most of us are minorities in one way or another).

While even one police-caused death is too many, each is different and in your official capacity you have reached conclusions in two cases which have not yet been adjudicated.

Being murdered because of a broken tail light, you write. As it this happens every day, if at all.

You seem to share the common progressive belief that it is open season on Black people in this country. The facts do not support this. 

For 2019, the last year for which numbers are available, 12 unarmed Black men were killed in police encounters, out of millions of interactions, according to the Washington Post data base. The total of armed Black men killed by police is 252. [Numbers in this paragraph were updated 4/18/21.]

The insistence on exaggerating the number of Black deaths creates added fear in that community.

I am glad you recognize you made mistakes last year during the riots in Philadelphia sparked by George Floyd’s death.

Realistically, it would be hard to deny your mistakes as police cars and parts of the city burned, and scores of stores were looted.

One mistake you are correcting this time  is asking for the National Guard before riots erupt, unlike last time when for unknown reasons — progressive pride? — you failed to call for help. That error caused millions of dollars in damage and loss, and gave the city a black eye.

Your instinct to disarm the police of tear gas is misguided.

It is a non lethal tool. Take that away, and it raises lethal force a notch. Yours is a foolish notion. 

Police by now should be trained in its proper use. While “you” have banned it, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw is showing she’s got more guts than you by saying it will be employed, if necessary. 

There were two things going on simultaneously last year and you must plan for the same this year.

1- Legitimate, peaceful protest. This is protected by the Constitution and must be protected by police. 

2- Criminals taking advantage of the peaceful protest to loot and riot.

As for 1-, the police protection must end the moment the first window is broken, the first fire bomb is thrown, the first bottle is aimed at police. It ends when “peaceful” protestors — who were given access to major city streets — decide to unlawfully block an interstate highway. Tear gas aside, protestors had no business on I-676. None.

It’s not just that they were breaking the law. They were destroying civility and disrespecting their fellow citizens.

Several times, in a display of head-shaking sophistry,  you write that you can’t understand what it’s like to be a Black person. 

Mayor, you can’t understand what it’s like to be me. 

Discovering your inner Chuck Berry is not your job. Your job is to protect the citizens of this city, all of them, and the city’s business, too, which are the blood that keeps us alive.

In your letter, I notice you are breaking new ground by capitalizing Brown people, along with Black, which previously had been accepted, with deeply flawed logic, by the AP.

This is something you might discuss in one of your “healing circles” — that make the jokes about kumbaya a reality.

Your lack of self-awareness is stunning. 

*******

Mayor Kenney Sends Open Letter to Philadelphians in Advance of Chauvin Trial Verdict

PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Jim Kenney today released an open letter to Philadelphians, offering his thoughts in advance of the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, accused in the murder of George Floyd.

“Waiting for the verdict is not the hardest part,” the Mayor wrote. “It is knowing that a life has been taken too soon and how unjustly Black and Brown people in this country are treated by law enforcement. It’s knowing that regardless of what the jury decides, the judgment rendered will retraumatize the victimized and remind us of the compounding effects of centuries of inequities and systemic racism that have brought us to this moment. It’s knowing that outrage may be felt once again. 

“I cannot pretend to understand what it is like to be a Black person in this country. No white person can. But I do understand that the long history of Black people facing inequality and injustice, of being denied opportunities, and of being harassed, thrown in jail and murdered because of a broken taillight or mistaken glance–all of that must end swiftly. 

“When the verdict comes, no matter the outcome, let us resolve to demonstrate peacefully, to voice the pain and anguish loud and clear but without destruction, and let us stay united working to ensure that Black lives matter today–and every day.” 

The Mayor also announced that the City will be hosting six virtual community healing circles over the next three weeks, as well as resources for communities to host their own events to provide safe spaces for neighbors to come together in solidarity. More information can be found here.

Copies of the Mayor’s letter on his letterhead are available on request to press@phila.gov, and the full text is below:

Fellow Philadelphians, 

In the coming days, a verdict will be rendered in the criminal case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with the murder of George Floyd. The decision will be reached almost one year after Mr. Floyd was killed on the ground under the knee of an officer sworn to protect and serve. 

This is one of far too many cases of fatal police violence still happening across our country. Daunte Wright was shot and killed in Brooklyn Center last Sunday, and yesterday video was released in the police shooting death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo while his empty hands were raised. 

Mr. Floyd’s killing was a tipping point for Black and Brown people and entire communities who have felt a life sentence of pain, fear, anger, and distrust for generations. It caused outrage, and in some instances, violence, by people desperate to be heard and understood. 

Looking back to last spring and the demonstrations in our city, we know the police and my administration made mistakes in how we handled the protests. Tear gas should not have been used and we over-policed in some communities while others felt abandoned. As your Mayor, I vow to do better. 

I’m committed to ensuring that we learn from our mistakes, demonstrate our accountability, and hold ourselves to a higher standard. Changing how we protect all of our residents is a priority of our administration. We are listening to members of the community–and in partnership with our Pathways to Reform, Transformation, and Reconciliation Steering Committee, we are reimagining our approach and efforts to keep ALL Philadelphians safe, while working to build a more equitable city for everyone. We’ve also made critical changes and clarifications to our policies, procedures, and training, with more to come.

We added mental health professionals to help screen 911 calls and identify signs of behavioral health crises. 

We expanded Crisis Intervention Training for 911 dispatchers and officers.

We are piloting four co-responder teams that pair Crisis Intervention trained officers with behavioral health professionals, with plans for additional teams.

We made it explicitly clear that sitting or kneeling on someone’s neck, face or head is absolutely prohibited.

We implemented internal policies and procedures and consistent accountability measures to identify and remove dishonorable personnel more easily.

Waiting for the verdict is not the hardest part. It’s knowing that a life has been taken too soon and how unjustly Black and Brown people in this country are treated by law enforcement. It’s knowing that regardless of what the jury decides, the judgment rendered will retraumatize the victimized and remind us of the compounding effects of centuries of inequities and systemic racism that have brought us to this moment. It’s knowing that outrage may be felt once again. 

In the meantime, we need to remember that we must still stand together as Philadelphians. We need to remember our neighbors who own small businesses and stores along our commercial corridors. We need to look out for each other. 

All of us have the right to express our beliefs. We have the right to gather, march and protest peacefully and safely. Great progress has been made when we unite in a common cause for the greatest good, and peaceful protest is the American way.  A “Know Your Rights” guide is available on the ACLU’s website. 

If you need help, please know that mental and behavioral health supports are available. You can find them at healthymindsphilly.org or by calling 888-545-2600.  We will also be hosting six virtual community healing circles over the next three weeks to provide safe spaces for neighbors to come together in solidarity, the first of which you can register for online.

And on the day of the verdict–whenever it may be–we will be calling for citywide prayer, so we can honor the memory of George Floyd and other Black Americans whose lives were tragically cut short because of brutality, racism, systemic failures, and deep societal inequities.  

I have said many times: I cannot pretend to understand what it is like to be a Black person in this country. No white person can. But I do understand that the long history of Black people facing inequality and injustice, of being denied opportunities, and of being harassed, thrown in jail, and murdered because of a broken taillight or mistaken glance–all of that must end swiftly. 

This is a call for active peace. So when the verdict comes, no matter the outcome, let us resolve to demonstrate peacefully, to voice the pain and anguish loud and clear but without destruction, and let us stay united working to ensure that Black lives matter today–and every day. 

In service, 

James F. Kenney

Mayor

15 thoughts on “A response to Mayor Kenney’s open letter”

  1. Dear Stu: Great piece here. Two questions: Mayor Amoeba (the amoeba lacks a spine) capitalizes every color except ‘white’. Wouldn’t that be ‘racist’? Shouldn’t Amoeba be ‘cancelled’? It’s not like it makes me want to go downtown and spray-paint, or throw a urine-filled balloon at a police officer or set his car on fire, or stand in the middle of the Vine Street Expressway; I was just wondering. Also, is Amoeba aware that no matter the verdict of which he speaks, there will be very most likely violence and utter mayhem, not unlike last summer? When Amoeba speaks of looking ‘out for each other’, I feel left out. I get the feeling he’s not speaking of the Philadelphia Police department nor tax-paying, law-abiding citizens, especially those who happen to be registered Republican. Thank you, Stu. Thanks for having the intestinal fortitude to print this piece.

  2. His lack of self awareness and awareness about his constituents in their full diversity is stunning. Think about it.

  3. HAPPY SUNDAY !!!
    Stu,
    The old saying was, “It can’t get any worse”. Sorry to say. I haven’t used that saying in years and am not likely to use it any time soon. Am I unaware of some sort of contest going on, where everyone tries to outdo the previous contestant with something more asinine that what has already been spoken ?
    I really do understand the (lack of ) brain waves presented by his honor. Politics will do that, especially when you come from the dark side. It is so easy to feed into this frenzy.
    As always, for your part. Well written as always. Truth !
    Tony

  4. A letter from a Hypocrite pandering to a gullible citizenry responded to by an outspoken Journalist with one word missing from the Mayor’s letter, “TRUTH! If you were to look closely at the main causes of why cities in America are failing their citizens just look to the capitulating, coward of a Mayor in Philadelphia. Has the press ever requested of the Mayor to show his extensive reading, his pages of research, loads of facts to prove any of the allegations in his letter to a block of alleged progressives? Can he explain what does the phrase systemic racism means? “Thrown in jail and murdered for a broken tail light.” When and where? The shooting of Adam Toledo while his hands were empty and raised. Maybe Mayor you should let the system you swore to uphold be given one more day to make your story a lie, as Toledo was shown with a gun and in eight-teenths of a second, an officer fired his weapon. in fear of being shot. Toledo’s friend admitted he fired the gun that drew police to the scene. Gunpowder residue was found on Toledo’s hands. Where is your accountability? Six virtual Healing centers? Who will be the monitors and what are they going to heal? And finally ” Black Americans whose lives were tragically cut short because of brutality, racism, systemic failures, and deep societal inequities” Could you have maybe expanded on that by using one fact in your entire letter by just noting that 500 Philadelphians were killed and over 2200 have been shot this year and the majority were black. Could that be considered systemic racism by minorities?

  5. The number of planted axioms in the Mayor’s letter is stunning. Talk about pandering…
    Your letter is brilliant. Too bad it’s written in a language the Mayor cannot understand.

  6. Stu, thank you for pointing out how under-qualified Kenney is. How he completely misses the narrative. He misses how many local kids have been killed or shat. People of color don’t want his sympathy they want what everybody wants: a safe place to live, to be able to have their children go out and play and come home safely. This is just about police brutality but everyday life. Systemic racism doesn’t control the spending for an ineffective educational system, or improve neighborhood services. The Mayor & City Council do. It’s been almost a year since the riots. What has improved? What has changed?

  7. Stu actually makes a gross error when he claims that police killed a total of 13 black men in 2019, some of whom were armed. In fact (and facts are stubborn things), police killed 235 black men in 2019 and 13 of them were unarmed. Big difference.

  8. Why is it that ALL lives don’t matter to you? Last year, 264 Police Officers were killed in the line of duty. Every night the news reports at least 5 shootings a day black on black..oh…..but that’s normal. Also, you should check the numbers on how many White criminals compared to black and brown criminals were shot by Police. But White don’t matter to you do they. You should be ashamed of yourself. 🙄

    1. HAPPY MONDAY!!!
      Ann,
      The following information is from ‘Officer down memorials page’. 360 deaths from various on duty incidents. Line of duty deaths of K-9s, 22.
      They all served us valiantly. Heroes one and all.
      Tony

  9. Brother Stu, nobody can lance our woke, bloated mayor like you can, drawing blood every time. It’s just a joy to behold. Especially when everybody at the Inquirer can’t get up off their knees when they’re around Kenney and Krasner. [Or any other Democratic official that they encounter].

    At bigtrial.net, I noted the cost of one day of woke-ism — $2 million to put more than 1,000 cops on the streets Saturday to guard less than 100 peaceful protesters.

    Let’s keep voting Democrat!

  10. Are the police department and mayors office going to keep an eye on Castor in Aramingo this time around???. since they lied their asses off and said oh we didn’t know that that was going to be a target again. In reality that’s a bunch of crap. Everybody knows that that’s the center up there for all the stores and it was left wide open the last time. So what are they going to do this time that should’ve been where you ran your plans from and then stretched out over the city. I may have a family of police officers and no somethings but anybody could see that. God bless the city this time around.

  11. Of the 12 unarmed black men killed by police in 2019; how many were breaking the law, resisting arrest and/or had an outstanding warrant or violation that the police were following up to?

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