Every day in this country, police officers risk their lives doing their duty. The very nature of what officers do — apprehending criminals — is dangerous. Once upon a yester-year, communities respected police for taking those risks to keep them safe. But that was then; this is now.
On Wednesday, police officers in Philadelphia — attempting to serve a warrant on drug charges — found themselves in a life-and-death shootout with a long-time criminal armed with an AK-47. Before it was over, six officers were injured and the gunman was in custody. The training and discipline of the officers on the scene prevented the situation from becoming far worse.
But what was happening while officers attempted to control the scene was — to borrow a pun — a prime example of adding insult to injury. As six heroes who had been shot while protecting a community were still suffering from their wounds, the community that enjoyed the protection of those officers and their brothers in blue turned on the police.
A series of videos obtained by Daily Mail shows both the shootout and the riot that followed. What those videos show is incredible and would have been unbelievable just a few years ago. As police were reeling from the attack, the street around the shooting was overflowing with angry residents surrounding officers, shouting slurs and taunts at them, and pelting them with objects.
The officers showed amazing restraint, considering that even as the shooting was ongoing, members of the crowd in the predominately black neighborhood can be seen charging officers, while shouting threats and throwing objects at them.
The politics of the situation are stark. While anti-gunners seized on the incident to hone their rhetoric about the shooter’s weapon of choice, they also managed to adroitly avoid the salient fact that the police were attacked not only by a man who — because of his violent criminal record — could not legally own any firearm, but also by the very people they were risking their lives to protect. Also ignored is the fact that the crowd’s ignorant, anti-police hatred was fueled by ignorant, anti-police rhetoric coming from the district attorney’s office.
As the Daily Mail reported, “In a press conference on Thursday, Pennsylvania state and local officials along with one of the state's US Senator and a US representative called on Congress to act to get 'weapons of war' like assault-style rifles off the streets.” On the flip side of that, “US Attorney William M. McSwain placed blame on 'a new culture of disrespect for law enforcement promoted and championed by' City of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.”
That “new culture of disrespect for law enforcement promoted and championed by City of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner” is something to be reckoned with. As McSwain went on to point out, Krasner — a former civil rights attorney and public defender before accepting the task of prosecutor — has an anti-police bent that has not altered simply because of his job description. “It started with chants at the DA’s victory party — chants of ‘F**k the police’ and ‘No good cops in a racist system.’”
Furthermore, “We’ve now endured over a year and a half of the worst kinds of slander against law enforcement — the DA routinely calls police and prosecutors corrupt and racist, even "war criminals" that he compares to Nazis.” McSwain went on to add, “This vile rhetoric puts our police in danger. It disgraces the Office of the District Attorney. And it harms the good people in the City of Philadelphia and rewards the wicked.”
Indeed it does, since much of the danger police faced Wednesday was because they were trying to control an active shooter situation in an attempt to protect the very people who were attacking them on the streets.
Wednesday’s situation began as police served a warrant at a residence in the 3700 block of North 15th Street. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said the drug-related operation “went awry almost immediately.” Police were able to take one suspect into custody without much trouble. As they continued to execute the warrant, two officers went upstairs, not realizing that the other suspect was still downstairs, armed with a rifle. That suspect, Maurice Hill, began firing through the downstairs ceiling into the upstairs, prompting officers to return fire. Hill then began firing at officers and others outside the home. A standoff ensued, placing people outside — including those who were taunting and pelting officers — in danger of injury or death.
The standoff lasted more than five hours, during which time the police and Hill’s lawyer attempted to negotiate a surrender. Even as police battled for their lives and the lives of residents of the community, they had to deal with those very residents — fueled by anti-police hatred — refusing lawful orders and attacking officers. Commissioner Ross said, “It's nothing short of a miracle that we don't have multiple officers killed today.” This writer would add that it is also a miracle that members of the community were not killed during the shooting. And it was those police officers — in blue — that made all the difference.
And they did it in spite of the Black Lives Matter anger and anti-police venom flowing from the DA’s office. Imagine what they could do with support from the community.
Image of standoff: Screenshot of ABC New footage