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FLOWERS: Riots Reflect Failure of Philly Progressives, Not the Cops

While Judge Wendy Pugh was dismissing murder charges against Officer Mark Dial on Tuesday, I was watching the first episode of Tigre Hill’s new docu-series “72 Seconds in Rittenhouse Square” about the murder of Sean Schellenger.

I had been interviewed for a brief segment, where I talked about the significance of Frank Rizzo to the city of Philadelphia. Reflecting on his legacy, I said, “When I was growing up, there was no bad side to Frank Rizzo. I grew up in an Italian-Irish family, working-class, blue-collar grandparents, and they loved Frank Rizzo. He had been the police commissioner for years before he became mayor. He was law-and-order; he represented the thin blue line. The Frank Rizzo that I know, and that I remember, and that I love, was someone who took on the bad guys.”

I then mentioned policing had become more “nuanced,” and the Frank Rizzo that I loved would not exactly fit into the current mold. To be honest, very few old-school police officers would fit into the new politically correct and socially conscious mold, where the words used and the risks taken are very different than the ones that faced a police commissioner who walked around in a tuxedo with a nightstick in his cumberbund.

That was confirmed in the starkest of terms with the case of Officer Dial, who was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Eddie Irizarry.

Irizarry, who had a knife, had been pulled over for driving erratically. While there is some dispute about what warnings were given and what the victim did before Dial opened fire, there is no question that Larry Krasner overcharged the cop. There was little evidence of first-degree, malice aforethought murder, despite what some have pointed to, including a video of the incident.

Family members and professional cop haters are not as discriminating with their legal expertise as a sitting judge, so I have no problem with her honor’s decision to dismiss the charges. The person to blame is a DA who is openly hostile toward the police force and views them as the enemy.

A message to DA Krasner: If you aren’t smart enough to lodge accurate, supportable charges, don’t be surprised when a judge who actually understands the law and criminal statute slaps you down. You have not served the victim’s loved ones in the process by building up false hopes for high-profile prosecutions on flimsy grounds.

When I heard about the judge’s decision, I had two thoughts. The first one was that this was the kind of thing that wouldn’t have happened under Rizzo. Yes, there was police misconduct and racial profiling. But in the 1960s and 1970s, the police department didn’t have to deal with prosecutors who were attempting to undermine their work. The police weren’t perfect, and neither were the prosecutors. But they weren’t waging war against each other, either.

My second thought was that I needed to get all of my shopping and errands taken care of before nightfall because riots and looting were preordained. And I was right.

In fact, I actually got caught up in the mayhem. I was on a bus riding down Chestnut Street in Center City near the Foot Locker and saw police tape and detours because a marauding band of violent men and women had vandalized and looted the store. Later that evening, I saw on the news video of the looters strutting out of the store, some nonchalantly carrying out clothing, electronics, and other stolen goods. Far from being spontaneous, there is evidence that the riots were actually orchestrated online.

The city has tried to say the riots weren’t related to the dismissal of charges against Officer Dial. They are desperate to separate the vandalism and animalistic behavior of some Philadelphians from what they believe to be “legitimate” peaceful protests. But they can’t do it because the conduct is intimately intertwined.

In a city that no longer respects law enforcement and believes that criminals are innocent until proven guilty, but police are always guilty, even when acquitted, we have enabled these outbursts of anarchy. These looters might not know who Eddie Irizarry was, but they do know that Mark Dial wore a badge, and they have such hatred, disrespect, and disregard for the system that they will take any opportunity to try and attack it.

To anyone who thinks the city was worse under Rizzo, get used to the new “politically correct and socially conscious” code of conduct.

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FLOWERS: Philly’s Mayor Looks Forward to Leaving Mess He Created

Everyone has those days when you wake up, look at the ceiling, and want to stay in bed until the moon rises in the evening sky. Most of us, however, are not the chief executives of major American cities, like the Hon. James Kenney, mayor of the city where America was born. Philadelphia’s leader has very publicly, albeit poignantly, made clear his desire to slump back into a private life he never actually had.

For most of his 60-plus years on this earth, Kenney has been in the public eye or on the public dole. He started his political life as an assistant to former state Sen. Vince Fumo, who essentially made his career possible. Patronage from the powerful Fumo helped Kenney snag a seat on Philadelphia City Council, where he remained for 23 years, from 1992 until 2015, when he resigned to run for mayor. He won that bid and is now well into his second term. He will wave a fond farewell (and being from Philly, likely a middle finger) in January 2024.

But over the weekend, he revealed to a reporter that he would prefer to be making his swan song much sooner. Commenting on the July 4th shooting of two police officers near the Art Museum during the holiday festivities, Kenney stated that “I don’t enjoy the Fourth of July, I don’t enjoy the Democratic National Convention, I didn’t enjoy the NFL Draft-I’m waiting for something bad to happen all the time. So I’ll be happy when I’m not here – when I’m not mayor, and I can enjoy some stuff.”

I am quite sure he did not grasp the tone-deafness of the phrase “and I can enjoy some stuff” hours after two police officers had been shot and were recovering in the hospital. Jim Kenney is many things, but he is not a cruel man. It’s likely he is so frustrated with the fruits of his own incompetence (and the actual malfeasance of others, like his District Attorney Larry Krasner) that he doesn’t realize how bad he looks when he ventures, infrequently, before the glare of the cameras.

Lately, it seems he has simply chosen to hide behind the doors of his office or the layers of Gen X and Gen Z “assistants” who have taken over his social media to tweet inane, feel-good comments about everything from rainbows during Pride Month to how fabulously he tried to erase the legacy of his most illustrious predecessor, Frank Rizzo. (Note to Kenney: Removing a statue does not remove stature).

But to those who actually heard the mayor say he wanted out of this job, it was a slap in the face. We, who are forced to live with the consequences of his acts and omissions, do not have the luxury of retiring from this city. True, we can choose to move elsewhere and abandon the place that provided generations of our families with joy and warm memories. Still, not everyone can afford to switch ZIP codes as easily as Jim Kenney slips out of state to Maryland crab shacks.

Of course, Kenney doesn’t take any responsibility for the mess he has made of the city. His fingers are pointed elsewhere, at the Republicans who have absolutely no control in the city, and who are not currently in charge of either Congress or the White House. Right before mentioning that he wanted to retire, he made this observation about the weekend:

“The weather was beautiful, the concert was beautiful, but we live in America and we have the Second Amendment, and we have the Supreme Court of the United States telling everybody they can carry a gun wherever they want.”

So, it’s not the district attorney refusing to prosecute gun crimes in the city. It’s the Founders and the inconvenient Second Amendment. And it’s not the thugs shooting at police officers and terrorizing civilians. It’s that ‘Republican’ U.S. Supreme Court misinterpreting the aforesaid inconvenient Second Amendment.

Given the fact that Jim Kenney has such an inability to admit that so many of the problems in the city are directly attributable to his lack of leadership, it actually might be a good idea for him to get an AARP subscription and buy a timeshare in Florida (if he could stand living in a state with a competent chief executive)

Now let’s see if we can convince Krasner to do the same.

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