Policing in America Series

“Police Wall of Shame” is a Policing in America series by Laura Plummer. 

November 30,2020


Philadelphia is the sixth largest city in the U.S. and the largest city in Pennsylvania. It has a population of just over 1.5 million, with roughly equal percentages of Black and white citizens (42 and 41 percent respectively). Its police department is the fourth largest in the country, behind only New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. It employs over 6,300 full-time sworn officers, around one for every 238 people.

While the defeat of Pres. Trump in the Nov. 3 election elicits hope for an end to police brutality in our nation, this is not a time to rest on our laurels. One need only examine the litany of untoward events involving the Philadelphia Police Department to be convinced of the ongoing need for radical and comprehensive police reform.

Date: Feb. 10, 2020

Incident: The department graduated 19 officers, none of whom was African-American, despite the city’s Black population of 42 percent.

Date: April 27, 2020

Incident: A report by the Penn. ALCU showed significant racial disparities when it came to traffic stops by the department. Black people accounted for 71 percent of all stops, despite only representing 42 percent of the city’s population.

Date: June 4, 2020

Incident: In his new budget, the mayor proposed a massive funding increase for the department while slashing funds for anti-violence programs and civilian oversight of the police.

Date: June 5, 2020

Incident: A high-ranking commander was charged with aggravated assault after being caught on video beating protestors with a baton. The same commissioner was cited in 2014 for failing to supervise four narcotics officers accused of theft and lying.

Date: June 6, 2020

Incident: Thousands of UPenn students and faculty urged the institution to cut its ties with the department, claiming a militarized police presence on campus.

Date: July 23, 2020

Incident: A report revealed that officers misused their body cameras. Misuse included not turning on the camera prior to handcuffing a person, not filing arrest paperwork, and, in one instance, turning off a camera to allow a fellow officer to beat a detainee.

Date: Sept. 17, 2020

Incident: A former officer claimed he was harassed and demeaned by his colleagues for his support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which he believed led to his unjust termination from the force.

Date: Oct. 9, 2020

Incident: A former officer was charged with murder in the 2017 fatal shooting of an unarmed Black man.

Date: Oct. 26, 2020

Incident: Police shot dead Walter Wallace Jr. in an incident captured on video.
The 27-year-old Black man was suffering from severe mental illness.

Date: Oct. 28, 2020

Incident: It was revealed that, at the time of the shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., only one third of officers was equipped with tasers, an alternative to firearms.

Date: Oct. 30, 2020

Incident: In an event caught on camera, officers smashed a woman’s SUV windows before dragging her and her infant out. A police union falsely claimed that the child had been missing.

Date: Nov. 6, 2020

An attorney for the family of Walter Wallace Jr. claimed that the police department ignored a 2015 report from the Dept. of Justice urging that tasers be given to officers in order to prevent fatal shootings.

Date: Nov. 23, 2020

Incident: The city board tasked with overseeing police shootings did not meet since Oct. of 2019 and did not have any meetings slated for the remainder of 2020.


Non-profit organizations and advocacy groups are hard at work in Philly. Amistad Law Project and #PhillyWeRise aim to gut the city’s police budget. POWER launched its Live Free/Justice Reform Campaign in response to recent police violence. The ACLU of Greater Philadelphia and Black Lives Matter Philly continue to push for broad criminal justice reform.

Resistance Resources

ACLU Greater Philadelphia Chapter is the local chapter of the national American Civil Liberties Union
Amistad Law Project is a human rights organization based in Philadelphia
Black Lives Matter Philly is the local chapter of the global Black Lives Matter movement
#PhillyWeRise is a campaign of the Movement Alliance Project
POWER is an interfaith religious organization serving Pennsylvania

This brief was compiled by Laura Plummer. Did we miss an incident? Contact me@lauraplummer.me.

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