For decades, Philadelphia has battled with corruption and broken systems of government and education. Countless government officials have been under investigation and imprisoned for their criminal abuses of power and authority. Countless schools have been operating under subpar conditions, and graduating students who do not meet the requirements to advance to higher grade levels. Countless promises have been made by both, and countless times they have failed to deliver on those promises. However, in March of 2020, Philadelphians experienced some of the greatest failures to date.
On March 16th, 2020, the Philadelphia School District officially went into quarantine.
On March 17th, 2020, the Philadelphia Police Department issued a statement reading…
“The City of Philadelphia has updated its posture concerning the Covid-19 pandemic. Beginning today (March 17, 2020), the City is suspending all public-facing services. To that end, most municipal buildings will be closed to the public, as the City tries to limit the potential for exposure to Covid-19. Patrol Districts will remain open to the public…”
Following these statements, the memo went on to say the following:
“Effective today (March 17, 2020), during the 4 pm x 12am tour, arrests for the following offenses will be effectuated via Arrest Warrant:
§ All Narcotics Offenses
§Theft from persons
§Theft from auto
§All Bench warrants
§Economic crimes (bad checks, fraud)
As seen via: https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/6811943/Outlaw-Memo.pdf
As reported via: https://www.fox29.com/news/philadelphia-police-to-delay-arrests-for-certain-non-violent-crimes
Where the Philadelphia School District failed to adequately provide timely online schooling to students, and Philadelphia law enforcement and municipal services have never actually recovered from suspending services in March of 2020, it should be no surprise that the City of Philadelphia is in the shape that it is in today. Philadelphia’s most vulnerable and marginalized communities have received the brunt of these kinds of blows for decades. However, this kind of psychological, economic, civil, and political abuse, to actually have your school district stop educating your children for months, and have your city government completely disappear at the time they are needed most, has without a doubt contributed to the current state of affairs in the City of Philadelphia.
For Black Americans, the histories of slavery, Jim Crow, The Lie of Reconstruction, The Ku Klux Klan, Black Suffrage, Eugenics & Medical Malpractice, The War on Drugs, The School to Prison Pipeline, Redlining, Gentrification, Mass Incarceration, Cultured Commercial Warfare, and more have never been redressed… Philadelphia has been an epicenter of all of these crimes against humanity like other places. There’s a certain kind of trauma and paralyzing spiritual disfunction that a person has to experience when their school system failed them, yet forces them to send their child to school fail them too… Or when they see their leaders be gunned down, and particularly in Philadelphia, an actual bomb dropped on a community to remove Black people from it with no accountability for the damages done. The apathy toward Black life is so high in Philadelphia that anthropologists at this city’s leading university have used the remains of children’s bodies from that bombing for decades for “research and pedagogy.” Eventually, these abuses create a cycle that leads to implosion, and this pandemic has only made it worse.
As the year 2020 progressed through April, most children in the Philadelphia school district received NO academic services or enrichment from their schools. Parents and teachers didn’t know what to do as neither the city nor the school district had any answers. When they did create a model for children to attend schools virtually, attendance was below 30% on a given day. Many schools operated for only 3 hours a day on average, for up to 3 days a week. The school district even announced that they were no longer grading students’ work, making it pointless to do assignments. Many of our children were completely failed but still advanced to the next grade level without actually being on grade level. By this time, tensions and sadness created nationwide protests after the world viewed the murder of George Floyd. Philadelphia experienced fires, commercial break-ins, robberies, and much more only three days into June.
Explosions, both real explosions and simulated, rattled through your chest, every day for months. Hundreds to thousands of reports of sonic boom-like episodes were being made to city officials, as they were nonstop. While these episodes of extremely loud, bomb-like sounds, began in the summer of 2019 in Bucks County and the greater Lehigh Valley, the scale increased in 2020 as they became more prevalent in the City of Philadelphia in May. With no fireworks actually in sight following these sonic booms that were significantly louder than the fireworks people are used to hearing, Philadelphians didn’t know what to think or do to deal with the sound and vibration of these ongoing thunderous episodes.
Within households, drug and alcohol abuse increased, domestic violence increased, hyper-sexual activity and abuses increased, depression increased, suicide among teenagers and adolescents in particular increased, and all the City and School District of Philadelphia had for Philadelphians was a “Missing In Action” report. This, for many, was among the most traumatizing movements of their lives. Since then, there has been no accountability. Since then, there’s been no recovery…
While it would take too much time to give a detailed report on each of the catastrophic experiences Philadelphia has experienced over these last two years, it is important that we begin having the conversation about Philadelphia’s fragile state in a way that investigates the causes and effects of what the city has gone through to develop solutions to its many problems. The over-traumatization of a people and complete lack of leadership for those people is one of the many starting places when identifying the root causes of Philadelphia’s current state of affairs, and it is my hope that YOU have the courage to accept the facts and circumstances and lead in the absence of leadership.
Hopefully, next, we can discuss how there can be such a density of colleges and universities in the Greater Philadelphia region and little to no investment into public school education. How those colleges and universities gentrify the communities of families and children they do not accept into their institutions. How Philadelphia completely bypassed any accountability for the effects and activities of the last police department’s leadership and hired a new police commissioner, who not from Philadelphia, to sit between a Mayor, District Attorney, Fraternal Order of Police, Legislature, and citizens whose relationship with each other is completely fractured during a time where the city is experiencing the most crime it has ever in history. How so many businesses can reap the benefit of paying zero taxes and displace native residents wherever their businesses are located. How the nation’s leader in internet and telecommunications can be headquartered in Philadelphia and zero children received the benefit of premium internet access during an extreme state of emergency that would cause them to need it for virtual schooling. How there are so many teachers absent from the classroom that there’s a booming industry-level need for substitute teachers to replace them. How the city has one of the worst opioid and alcohol abuse problems in the entire nation. How millions of dollars of firearms and ammunition continue to find their way into the hands of Philadelphians illegally. How federal agencies have countless cases open against Philadelphia officials to investigate conspiracy, money laundering, embezzlement, and more, which has been a part of Philadelphia’s political culture for decades. How the police presence and efficacy is at an all-time low while crime is at an all-time high, yet Philadelphia’s police officers will get one-time bonuses of $1,500 in addition to raises of 2.75% this year and a raise of 3.5% in 2022 and 2023. How activists and everyday citizens are risking their lives to patrol the streets of Philadelphia while receiving little to no support from the city, as the city spends millions of dollars on violence prevention with absolutely no success or measurable results that qualify the proper use of those funds. How the School District of Philadelphia owes the Philadelphia Parking Authority $11.3 million dollars when the Philadelphia Parking Authority is supposed to be financially servicing the Philadelphia School District instead… Yeah, hopefully next we can discuss one of these various elements of Philadelphia’s broken infrastructure to understand why our community is in such dismay. #Reparations #ReparatoryJustice.
– Rashaun Williams.