Highlights and Lowlifes of Corruption in Philly’s History

Image description: Frank Rizzo statue located in Thomas Paine Plaza across from City Hall in Center City.

Photo and story by Danielle Corcione

August 31, 1970: Mayor Frank Rizzo orders raids at Black Panther offices at 2935 W. Columbia Avenue in West Parkside, 3625 Wallace Street in Mantua, and 428 W. Queen Lane in Germantown. At dawn, law enforcement strip, handcuff, and arrest 15 party organizers and activists.

1977: The Philadelphia Police department obtains a court order requiring the MOVE organization to vacate their commune on North 33rd Street in Powelton Village.

1979: The United States Department of Justice files a civil suit against Mayor Rizzo, alleging “shocking” and systematic abuse of power by Philadelphia Police under Rizzo’s watch. “Even if you’re wrong,” Rizzo tells an audience of 700 police officers, “I’m going to back you.”

July 1982: Journalist and former Black Panther activist Mumia Abu-Jamal is convicted for the murder of officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death. The validity of evidence in the case remains in question.

May 13, 1985: From a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter, a Philadelphia police lieutenant drops a bomb over the MOVE organization’s compound, a two-story home located on 62nd and Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia. The incident causes a fire and kills eleven MOVE members, including five children.

August 1, 2000: During the Republican National Convention in Center City, demonstrators are “subject to intense scrutiny and abuse, including surveillance and harassment for months before any convention delegates set foot in Philly, infiltration by the Pennsylvania State Police, pre-emptive raids, assaults in the streets, arrests by the hundreds, and malicious prosecution.” About 420 demonstrators are arrested. Similar tactics were used during the Democratic National Convention in July 2016, although repression was much worse 16 years prior.

March 16, 2009: Former Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Fumo is convicted “of defrauding the state and two nonprofit groups of $3.5 million and having state employees do political and personal tasks.”

September 27, 2016: Video footage of Gayborhood club iCandy owner, Darryl DePiano, using a racial slur surfaces. The Black and Brown Workers Collective (BBWC) had already been organizing protests against racist dress codes in the Gayborhood.

January 25, 2017: Former Pennsylvania Congressional Representative Chaka Fattah checked into prison to serve a 10-year sentence for accepting a $1 million campaign loan and utilizing government and nonprofit finances to pay it back.

January 25, 2017: The BBWC publishes a Change.org petition calling for the resignation of the Mazzoni Center CEO Nurit Shein and Medical Director Dr. Robert Winn. The health clinic was accused of racist and ableist discriminatory practices towards employees. BBWC was successful in getting both people to resign.

June 29, 2017: District Attorney Seth Williams pleads guilty to one count of accepting bribery and resigns from office. He had been accused of another 28 counts of bribery, extortion, and fraud. He allegedly misused campaign cash and government property and accepted gifts from two wealthy benefactors, “including trips abroad, a $3,000 custom-built sofa and a used Jaguar convertible.”

Sources:

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