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Black Lives Matter protesters rally at home of officer involved in fatal shooting

Activists call for punishment in the shooting of David Jones outside officer's home in quiet Bustleton neighborhood.
Black Live Matter activist, Asa Khalif, protests as a line of officers protect the home of the police officer who killed David Jones on Aug. 24. (Hayden Mitman)

Calling for justice in the recent, fatal police shooting of 30-year-old David Jones, a small group of Black Lives Matter protestors marched in the streets in front of the Bustleton home of the police officer who caused Jones’ untimely death.

The events unfolded at about 7 p.m. on Thursday, when a group of protestors began pasting “wanted” posters for Philadelphia Police officer Ryan Pownall on telephone poles near his home along Bridle Road in Northeast Philly.

The posters featured a photo of Pownall and claimed the officer was “wanted by the people of Philadelphia for the murder of David Jones.”

According to the police report on Jones’ death, he was fatally shot in the back by Pownall on June 8th after a scuffle over a gun in Jones' waistband.

Pownall had stopped Jones after seeing him riding a dirt bike erratically near the intersection of Whitaker and Hunting Park Avenues in Juniata Park, notes the report. An alleged witness to the shooting has claimed that he saw Jones' gun drop to the sidewalk before Jones ran and Pownall shot the fleeing Jones fatally in the back.

On Thursday, Black Lives Matter organizer, Asa Khalif led a group of about ten protestors in chants of “No justice, no peace, no racist police” and “We demand justice for David Jones,” as police vehicles quickly filled the block.

It was mere moments after the protestors placed their first “wanted” poster when law enforcement officials arrived en masse, creating a line of officers along the sidewalk, separating protestors from the home they had targeted.

“We want justice for his kids. We want justice for his family,” shouted Khalif. “We want justice or else we are going to keep going into your motherf***ing neighborhood.”

During the protest, local residents emerged from their homes. Some confronted the protestors, with one man even attempting to throw several signs that read “Black Lives Matter” into a plastic garbage bag.

He shouted “I saw trash and wanted to pick it up,” when officers on the scene stopped him and walked the man back towards his home.

Though the event was mostly peaceful, at times protestors clashed with residents in prolonged shouting matches. Police on hand seemed content to monitor the situation and make sure to keep the parties separate.

When asked to discuss the police response to the protest, officers on scene declined to comment to a Metro reporter. 

At one point, someone in the crowd shouted that, if Khalif wanted to have his point heard, he should go directly to the mayor’s office.

Khalif replied that he had indeed done that.

In fact, he had, in recent weeks, stopped press conferences, marched on City Hall and stormed into the offices of the city’s managing director, Michael DiBerardinis, calling for Pownall to be arrested for Jones’ shooting.

Khalif replied that they had decided to come to Pownall’s home in a further effort to seek justice.

“[Police] come into our communities and we are flipping the script. We are coming to your neighborhood,” he said.

The investigation into Jones’ death is ongoing and is being handled by the Office of the Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

After about an hour, as the sun began to set, Khalif gathered his small group of activists and left for the evening.

“Black lives matter also,” said Khalif as he closed the rally. “When you kill someone, you should go to jail.”

No arrests were made. Mayor Jim Kenney praised the conduct of the police officers who, he said, "peacefully defused last night's event."

"There are many Philadelphians and officers who are productively working to build police-community trust, including pushing for transparency and reform which Commissioner Ross and I both agree must continue," Kenney said. "What happened last night did nothing to move those efforts forward."

Following the display, some locals seemed upset by the protest.

"This is a disgrace. Don't come to our neighborhood!" shounted one neighbor as Khalif's vehicle drove off. The man refused to share his name with a reporter.

Yet, others seemed to believe that it was everyone’s right to protest if they feel there has been an injustice.

Citing the fact that protestors promised to return to the neighborhood in the coming days, a neighbor of Pownall’s asked to remain anonymous, but he said that he could understand the protestors’ motivations.

“We live in a free country, so you should be able to voice your opinion,” said the neighbor. “But, my father was a cop and you show up at a guy’s house to express your opinion? I don’t know… That’s tough.”