Community activists, and family and friends of Tyree Carroll — the 22-year-old man who was kicked and beaten by Philadelphia police officers during his arrest last April — gathered for a march and protest in Germantown this weekend.
As many as 50 protesters participated in the Saturday march, which began on the 600 block of Locust Ave. where Carroll was arrested, and ended at the 14th police district headquarters on Haines Street.
A recently released video of Carroll’s arrest appears to show as many as two dozen police officers surrounding Carroll as he is being punched and kicked by several officers while he is down on the ground.
According to a statement from Philadelphia Police, Carroll bit two of the police officers as many as three times when he was stopped for a narcotics violation on April 3. Carroll was eventually taken into custody and 5.3 grams of crack cocaine were retrieved from his person.
The Internal Affairs Bureau has since launched an investigation into the incident. Carroll’s supporters, including his grandmother Nancy Carroll, are calling for the immediate firing of the officers involved in the arrest.
“They have no right to beat someone else’s child,” said his grandmother. “They beat him like he was a dog or something. The officers need to be accountable for what they’re doing.”
As many as 23 community groups and activists participated in organizing the event, each bringing with them additional participants and their own message. During the demonstration, several references and comparisons were made to the cases of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Rodney King, all high profile police brutality cases.
A list of 14 demands were presented to police. Included on the list of demands are that Tyree Carroll be released from jail, the police involved in the incident be named and investigated for previous incidents and Philadelphia police chief, Charles Ramsey, step down.
Donna Hill of the Global Women’s Strike said she came to support Nancy Carroll, but also to raise awareness about prisoner abuse in Pennsylvania.
“I know Tyree’s grandmother. So, I’m here to not only support her, but I also have a daughter in prison. So, I want to speak to the abuse inside the prison system that nobody is really aware of,” Hill said.
Mani Martinez said his group, the Philadelphia Coalition for REAL Justice, hoped to galvanize support for Carroll’s case, just as they did for Brandon Tate-Brown, the 26 year old who was shot and killed by a Philadelphia police officer during a car stop in Frankford in December.
Before the protesters began their one-mile trek to the police precinct, Philadelphia Coalition for REAL Justice Member, Megan Malachi read a statement that Tyree Carroll wrote from jail:
“I appreciate people coming out for me. Thank you for your support and the work that you have put in. I appreciate the love and concern that you have for me. I hope my case changes things for justice. The abuse needs to stop somewhere.”
The new head of the 14th Police District, Captain Sekou Kinebrew, was on site at the protest, along with several civil affairs and bike officers.
Twelve police cars and vans parked near Chelten and McMahon streets with their car engines running.
Kinebrew said the extra police presence was only to protect protester’s rights. He said the demonstration was as “American as apple pie.”
“This is their right and we’re here to uphold it. We’re not going to agitate them.” Kinebrew said. “You have a right to not like what you saw on that video.”
The popular “hands up, don’t shoot” mantra, from the protests around the police shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri morphed into “hands up, fight back,” over the course of the march.
When the group finally arrived at the precinct, roughly a dozen officers stood behind a police barricade as protesters, including the mother of Brown, Tanya Brown-Dickerson, and MOVE member Pam Africa took their turns hurling insults at the officers through a bullhorn for roughly an hour.
The protest closed with a list of demands being ceremoniously handed to Lieutanant Sean Danridge and a call for everyone to come to a community meeting with police at the 14th district on Tuesday, July 21 at 6 p.m.
The town hall
Kinebrew said he hosts a town hall once a month to allow residents to share their concerns. He’s prepared to see a larger than usual crowd at next week’s meeting.
“As soon as the video broke I knew there were going to be people there that wanted to talk about this, and we will.”