On Friday, protestors calling for justice in the police shooting death of David Jones snarled traffic around City Hall as they took to the streets.
Along with the protest, organizers also release their list of demands for Mayor Jim Kenney, interim Philadelphia District Attorney Kelley Hodge and Police Commissioner Richard Ross. Local Black Lives Matter organizer Asa Khalif said that if they don’t get a reply to their demands, “we are going to shut this city down.”
“If we don’t get justice, if this family doesn’t get justice, this city won’t get any peace,” Khalif said. “That’s a promise.”
Protestors have stepped up their demands for action from city officials following the June 8th shooting of David Jones, who was shot and killed after he was stopped while riding a dirt bike by Officer Ryan Pownall of the city’s 15th police district. In recent days, protesters have stormed the city Managing Director's office, a press conference at the Free Library, and a Police Advisory Commission meeting.
Pownall allegedly shot Jones in the back as Jones attempted to flee after being stopped while riding a dirt bike. It was the second time in his career that Pownall had shot someone in the back, according to court records.
Police have said that Jones attempted to pull a gun during a scuffle with Pownall. However, a man named Terrance F., who declined to give his last name, who was at the protest, claims to have been in the back of Pownall's car during the shooting. He says he and his son were being transported to Special Victims Unit for an unrelated case at the time, and claims Jones never pulled a weapon, but dropped his gun and ran. He has reportedly been interviewed by police.
“This is this officer’s second time shooting a black man in the back,” said protester Isaac Gardner. “We are here today because this must stop… We will continue our rallies until justice is served.”
Among the protestors demands to the mayor: fill the vacant seat at the head of the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission – the commission has had an interim director since former director, Kelvyn Anderson, resigned earlier this year – as well as have City Council approve a bill that would fund the commission at over $1 million a year.
Also, call on the city controller’s officer to do a cost-benefit analysis of the city’s stop-and-frisk policy, and they demanded the DA’s office expand the scope of the investigation of Jones’ death to determine whether the officer showed “good judgement and sound reasoning” on the day of the shooting.
As the protestors gathered on Friday morning at the Philadelphia Police headquarters, Pastor Mark Kelly-Tyler of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, called for city officials to show their support for justice in Jones’ shooting death. He said that Jones “did nothing to deserve to die” and he called on the mayor to show his concerns for Jones’ family.
“We have not seen our mayor cry for David Jones,” said the pastor.
After a rally at Philadelphia Police headquarters, protestors marched to City Hall and stayed in the streets in front of the DA’s office off Juniper Street at Penn Square. Protesters briefly clashed with police, later claiming an officer hit a member of the march with a bicycle, leading to Khalif shouting at officers as he stood in the middle of Broad Street.
“This is violence against black and brown people!” he shouted.
However, no arrests were made and the protest ended about two hours after it began.
With 50 days passed since the death of Jones, before he left the area, Gardner said that friends and family of the 30-year-old Jones are still upset at his untimely death.
“Of course people are upset,” said Gardner. “Tempers are flaring. We are upset.”