Philly police rally in anger over protest at officer's home

Philadelphia police rallied Thursday evening at their union’s headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia to vent their outrage over a protest that occurred last week outside the home of an officer involved in a fatal shooting in June.

John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, angrily addressed a ballroom filled with hundreds of officers, their families, and other supporters, and called the small group of protesters who demonstrated outside Officer Ryan Pownall’s home in Bustleton the night of Aug. 24 a “pack of rabid animals.”

The day after the protest, the police union went to court and obtained a ruling, agreed to by the city, that while the city can still release  the name of an officer involved in shooting a person 72 hours afterward, the union may seek an emergency petition to halt the release of the officer’s name. A full hearing on the matter is to be held Sept. 29 before Common Pleas Court Judge Daniel J. Anders..

The union is supporting legislation sponsored by State Rep. Martina White, a Northeast Philadelphia Republican, that would delay the release of an officer’s name for 30 days after a shooting. A similar bill was passed by the Republican-controlled legislature last year but was vetoed by Gov. Wolf, a Democrat.

Pownall fatally shot David Jones, 30, in North Philadelphia on June 8. Police said Jones reached for an illegal gun and then ran off. Pownall shot him in the back.

McNesby accused the media of providing the protesters, who have also disrupted public events and marched in the city, excessive coverage that encourages violence.

Pownall and his family were in the audience, McNesby said. The protesters outside his home last week used bullhorns and carried posters that said Pownall was “wanted for the murder of David Jones.” A large police presence was on hand to protect the officer’s home and family.

City Councilman Brian J. O’Neill, whose father was a police officer, also addressed the “Back the Blue” rally and said the protest at the officer’s home was a “stain on the city of Philadelphia.”

“The city of Philadelphia should have a sacred trust with the family, not just the officer, but the officer’s family when they’re in their home,” O’Neill said.

Other speakers included White; Beth Grossman, the Republican candidate for district attorney; and City Councilman Mark Squilla.

McNesby said he sent invitations to all of the city’s elected officials, including Mayor Kenney, and candidates for office, which prompted some in the crowd to shout, “Where is Kenney?” The mayor did not attend.