David Jones was shot in the back and killed by Philadelphia police officer Ryan Pownall last summer. He was a black man who lived in Northeast Philadelphia, a person who had a loving girlfriend and a son who had just graduated from middle school—the day before the murder. At a press conference on September 4, 2018, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced the former officer's indictment on three charges: criminal homicide, possession of an instrument of crime and recklessly endangering another person. Thought to be the first indictment for murder of an on-duty Philadelphia police officer, this wouldn't have been possible without the Black Lives Matter movement and the on-going work of BLM activists, other radical organizations, Jones' family and regular working class people on the ground shouting "Justice for David Jones!"
David Jones was a truck driver and father who lived in Northeast Philadelphia.
Ryan Pownall and the Fraternal Order of Police - the Whole Damn System is Rotten
Unsurprisingly, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) struck back against Larry Krasner with a press conference of their own. FOP Lodge #5 president John McNesby pledged to get Pownall's charges dropped and to "get his job back protecting this community." This is a laughable statement to anyone who has followed the recent revelations on the Philadelphia Police Department. Earlier this year, the District Attorney's office released a list of "problem cops" facing allegations of misconduct. The list ranged from officers who engaged in horrific violence to those with DUI charges. The 12-year veteran Ryan Pownall was not only on the list but had a notorious history of police misconduct and brutality. This didn't bother the FOP Lodge as they sported "I Stand with Ryan Pownall shirts" in response to protests calling for his indictment.
Ryan Pownall is not the one bad apple, he is just the one who got caught. Brutal, systematic oppression is embedded in the core mission of the Philadelphia Police Department.
The suspension of Ryan Pownall did not change the nature of the Philadelphia Police Department. The DA's office is currently investigating the killings of Khalil Lawal and Jeffrey Dennis, both Black working class people shot dead in the street by Philadelphia police officers since then. Ryan Pownall is not the one bad apple, he is just the one who got caught. Brutal, systematic oppression is embedded in the core mission of the Philadelphia Police Department.
Justice for Jeffrey Dennis, Khalil Lawal, and David Jones - We Want Control Over Our Communities!
Socialist Alternative supports this indictment by Larry Krasner and the District Attorney's office, rightfully charging Ryan Pownall with murder. We urge the office to not bend to the pressure of the FOP who are calling to the lower the charges to involuntary manslaughter. However, it wasn't Larry Krasner who was responsible for exposing Ryan Pownall. As a by-the-book lawyer, he's taken the attitude that each case must show a crime may have been committed. It was the grassroots activists, organizations, and regular working class people of Philadelphia proving their case by disrupting the daily flow of this city in the name of David Jones and his family. Without this, the death of David Jones would most certainly have been swept under the rug, like so many others before him.
We can't let the FOP be the only organized force in this struggle. We must continue to build and strengthen the movements and organizations that can keep up the pressure until this indictment becomes a groundbreaking guilty verdict. We want Ryan Pownall behind bars, no longer posing a danger to the Black and Brown working class of Philadelphia. Socialist Alternative calls for charges to be brought against the police officers who killed Jeffrey Dennis and Khalil Lawal!
Finally, we must go beyond dealing with the symptoms of police brutality and strike at the disease by putting the Philadelphia Police Department under the control of the Philadelphia working class by reconstituting our Police Control Board as a democratic elected body with the powers to hire, fire, subpoena and conduct independent investigations into cases such as these.
- A Democratically Elected Police Control Board - With powers to hire, fire, subpoena and conduct independent investigations
- Bring charges against the officers that killed Jeffrey Dennis and Khalil Lawal
- End Stop and Frisk immediately
- Jail Ryan Pownall