Rodney King Times Three:
The Philadelphia Beat-Down

Here we go again. A big city police department is embroiled in yet another controversy surrounding brutality towards citizens it is supposed to protect and serve. Video has emerged of a swarm of Philadelphia police officers viciously beating three young unarmed black men.

On the tape, about a dozen Philly cops gather around a vehicle, and begin violently pulling the three men out of the car. Half a dozen officers held two of the men down on the ground, while repeatedly kicking them. One of the victims is shown being punched. Another appears to be struck with a baton. And the third man is also aggressively subdued.

The victims in the tape have now been identified as 23 year old Brian Hall, 19 year old Pete Hopkins, and Dwayne Duches, 24.

This is one of the worst cases of police brutality I have ever witnessed. It’s Rodney King all over again. In fact, it’s Rodney King x three! I mean, King was one unarmed black motorist savagely beaten by a gang of cops. In Philadelphia, there were three black motorists who appear to get the living daylights beat out of them. It’s eerie and disturbing to watch. A repeat of a sad history now tripled in one camera frame.

How is it that cops continue to chase suspects, and become crooks themselves by engaging in ridiculous and uncalled for abuse? There seems to be no apparent justification for the savage abuse of these young black men. The Justice Department needs to fully investigate these officers for civil rights violations, and eventually prosecute them for excessive force.

Black America has always had an uneasy relationship with law enforcement, and our community has complained about police brutality and racial profiling for decades. With the widespread technology of video cameras and cell phone cameras, you would think that police would get smart and behave differently. Yet, the privileges of the men in blue seem to trump all common sense and humanity far too often when it comes to the darker brother in this American family.

On the heels of the Sean Bell verdict, in which an unarmed black man was murdered in a hail of more than 50 bullets, the Philadelphia situation is beyond disheartening. It is as if black people are not regarded as full citizens. It makes my stomach turn.

Of course, there have been countless incidents concerning other unarmed blacks in the last decade. From Amadou Diallo in New York to Margaret Laverne Mitchell, a mentally ill homeless woman who was killed by the L.os Angeles Police Department over a stolen shopping cart, the list seems to go on and on. And those are just the ones that we know about.

We have police officers across the country in what appears to be a “shoot and beat down first” policy when it comes to dealing with members of the black community. And no one is dealing with it SYSTEMICALLY. We’ve gotta think beyond case-by-case at this point, people. Let’s make a plan.

See for yourself:

More tomorrow …

Najee Ali is Executive Director of Project Islamic H.O.P.E, a national civil rights organization that advocates for the human rights of oppressed people regardless of race, gender or religion. He was selected by Wave Newspapers and Our Weekly Newspaper as one of the 25 most influential black leaders in Los Angeles. More information is available at: www.islamichope.org.

Leave a Comment


May 7th, 2008 at 6:45 pm Ashley says:

Your right Mr. Ali! I saw this online and it sent chills down my spine. We are still going through this in 2008!

May 7th, 2008 at 7:19 pm thelma says:

I’m pissed!! this is just ridiculous people… we can’t live like this

May 7th, 2008 at 7:21 pm kris says:

Something needs to be done. I can’t walk down the street without feeling like they are going to be on me for no reason.

May 7th, 2008 at 7:21 pm culturepop says:

i’m beside myself with anger. so what if those boys had committed a crime. you detain them with appropriate force, and then get them booked. that’s it. this is just overkill. the white man needs to answer for this in a big way. disgusting

May 7th, 2008 at 7:23 pm Babe says:

I totally agree. This has been going on for decades. Police brutality is nothing new in the Black community. Is it ever going to end?

May 7th, 2008 at 8:15 pm nicq says:

Nothin new. The man is all over a brotha whether he doin’ right or wrong.

May 7th, 2008 at 9:55 pm Ginger says:

It’s really truly disgusting. Very sad.
And unfortunately I have zero confidence that these people who are paid to “protect and serve” will get any more than a slap on the wrist which is what seems to happen in all of these situations.

May 7th, 2008 at 10:45 pm Tina says:

40 years after MLK’s death and we are still going through this type of thing! A change needs to happen. Please let me know who I need to call or write to. This is crazy.

May 7th, 2008 at 11:24 pm superj says:

Brother Ali what can we do?

May 8th, 2008 at 1:53 am NORM AL GUY says:

so what are we goinna do just talk about it? or snarl traffic in cities all across the country. neither seem to do much good.

May 8th, 2008 at 2:48 am kamalp says:

sean bell then this makes me wanna just ARGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!! pissed the hell off!

May 8th, 2008 at 3:38 am ratty says:

this looks like a friggin FREE FOR ALL! these cops are just having a ball taking out their frustrations on these men. yes, they are suspects ina shooting. yes, an officer was recently killed in the area. but damn, these cops are supposed to be PROFESSIONALS!

May 8th, 2008 at 4:42 am nathan says:

I feel sad for the state of America when our police force becomes its own gang of violence. This is a sad day!

May 8th, 2008 at 8:51 am young clean bastard says:


May 8th, 2008 at 9:44 am Freshest07 says:

I can’t take my eyes off this one cop whose whackin away with the baton ova and ova then starts to get his kick on. Unbelievable even tho it keeps on happenin.

May 8th, 2008 at 10:34 am tamaratgreg says:

Damn, I guess this means I have to finally answer those stupid jury summons requests that keep popping up in my mailbox. Part of the problem is that the after the egregious beat downs the cops are never held accountable because ill-informed juries keep letting them off the hook. I really believe that if the jokers who beat Rodney King had to serve (what I believe to be justified) hard time, the next cop would think twice before beating any man, black or otherwise like a dog.

May 8th, 2008 at 11:25 am allison says:

It hurt my heart to see this, dang.

May 8th, 2008 at 11:36 am thelma says:

the major and police cheif, both black - were on TV this morning looking like lost puppies. one of the excuses is that a philly cop was killed last week, and the city is on edge, adn thecops are on edge. so, they take it out on these kids?? makes no sense. i woke up as angry about this as i laid down. just unbelieveable.

May 8th, 2008 at 11:49 am Ellene Miles says:

I’m numb to this kind of thing. Police think of the black and brown communities they serve as animals. period. camera or not, they are blind when it comes to releasing their aggression and rage, what better outlet than black kids?
they know the justice system is squarely in their favor.

May 8th, 2008 at 12:47 pm Tawnie says:

no JUSTICE! no PEACE! reverend al had the right idea in nyc yesterday. these people only understand chaos and war.

May 8th, 2008 at 1:09 pm PRETTY PLUS says:

Didn’t them fools see the HELICOPTER overhead and think twice about beating that ass? Like Ali said common sense went out the window. We all know they dirty but at least hide your mess. When they are that out n open with it its like they could give a damn cause they know no consequences.

May 8th, 2008 at 3:34 pm RitaR says:

What is the official response to this by Philadephia mayors office? Does anyone know if the Presidential candidates have said anything?

May 8th, 2008 at 3:47 pm hisherness says:

@tina you’re looking for the police academies. the problem here (one problem among *many*, but the problem i think can be realistically addressed by calling and writing) is that these officers can’t handle stress. their training is insufficient. they know the rules, they’ve studied the Use of Force diagrams, but under stressful situations they act on instinct. in the type of stressful situation involving murders, extreme violence is an instinct for many people. but let’s face it, being an officer is a stressful job, and academies and ongoing exercises must be harsh enough, must be themselves stressful enough, that the instinct *becomes* proper Use of Force. the training they receive cannot be second nature, second nature isn’t good enough when you’re armed. it must be first nature, and that takes intense, harsh, rigorous training. visit a Special Forces training facility, and you’ll find expert consultants on this matter. how to teach the higher ups how to know when an officer should and shouldn’t be armed … well, that’s a basic leadership skill. they don’t need special training for that, they just need to pay attention.

May 8th, 2008 at 7:51 pm 1GOODMAN says:

interesting @ hisherness
i hear you, nicq. stay strong tho young brotha
stay cool, young clean.

May 8th, 2008 at 11:22 pm missme says:

I see that same guy Freshest, Infuriating.

May 9th, 2008 at 9:43 am thelma says:

read this again and still pissed off
brother najee speak on it
we need to act and stop reacting

May 10th, 2008 at 6:42 pm Ed80 says:

Another American Travesty

May 10th, 2008 at 6:45 pm Ed80 says:

Another American Travety. They keep ‘em comin’ don’t they?

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