Councilman Jones decries witness intimidation at Thursday meeting

It was a relatively uneventful City Council meeting for Northwest Philadelphia legislators on Thursday.

A resolution introduced by Ninth District City Councilwoman Marian Tasco to honor the Philadelphia Cultural Fund’s 20th anniversary was approved.

Eighth District City Councilwoman Cindy Bass introduced a resolution, on behalf of the Nutter Administration, regarding the potential Redevelopment Authority purchase of several plots of land in Nicetown.

Five of the six bills introduced by Fourth District City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. were done so on behalf of Council President Darrell Clarke.

However, the resolution Jones sponsored to deem Thursday as Law Enforcement Officer Appreciation Day was unanimously approved by Council.

It also served as a perfect segue into Jones’ concerns about witness intimidation in the wake of a double homicide in Olney.

Witness-intimidation scourge

After Rodney Ramseur, Jr. and Latia Jones were shot to death while sitting on Ramseur’s front porch in Olney on Monday night, stories emerged that the man had recently testified in a murder case and was killed as a result.

Jones noted that these were two of 126 murders in the city so far this year, but that it was “horrific” if the witness-intimidation theory holds true.

“Unfortunately, a 21-year-old man and his pregnant girlfriend were gunned down on their own front porch because he came forward,” said Jones. “We need to protect our residents and we need to do it now.”

Noting that there have been 46 witness-intimidation arrests near the courthouse within a year, he blamed revolving-door justice with low bail for gun offenders, bail guidelines which haven’t been updated since 1983 and a Criminal Justice Center where suspects, victims, witnesses and jurors are asked to share just six elevators.

“There is no justice without witnesses being protected,” he said. “We’re losing justice. We’re losing witnesses. And we’re losing them right on their front porches.”

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