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rgio Avatar

Location: West Jersey
Gender: Male

Posted: Oct 24, 2021 - 5:38pm

So it appears as though a lot of the reporting of the rape last week in Philly was based on "alternative facts" used by the cops...most notably their leadership.

This is an opinion piece.

SEPTA rape case is latest in a U.S. pandemic of police lying. There must be consequences | Will Bunch

The police disinformation about passengers watching the SEPTA rape is just one of a series of cop lies rocking the U.S. political debate. Enough is enough!

SEPTA Transit Police Chief Thomas Nestel III and SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards are seen through the window of a trains as they hold a news conference on an El platform at the 69th Street Transportation Center on Oct. 18, following a brutal rape on a subway train.
SEPTA Transit Police Chief Thomas Nestel III and SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards are seen through the window of a trains as they hold a news conference on an El platform at the 69th Street Transportation Center on Oct. 18, following a brutal rape on a subway train,

You know the old adage that a lie travels halfway around the world before the truth gets a chance to put its pants on. In the aftermath of a shocking rape aboard a SEPTA El train as it rolled into 69th Street Station in Upper Darby last week, the pants of truth were apparently out at the dry cleaners for a few days.

The alarming first draft of the story about that SEPTA subway car that came from the lips of police officers such as Upper Darby Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt — that during a brutal sexual assault of a passenger that lasted about six minutes, a carload of passengers watched and even filmed videos but did nothing to stop the attack — fit the broader post-pandemic “law and order” narrative of an amoral modern world gone mad.

“I’m appalled by those who did nothing to help this woman,” Bernhardt said a couple of days after the rape arrest of a 35-year-old man. “Anybody that was on that train has to look in the mirror and ask why they didn’t intervene or why they didn’t do something.” Fueled by the internet and the hothouse environment of right-wing talk radio, the SEPTA rape saga didn’t just travel halfway around the world but made multiple orbits.

“The criminals have taken over the city, Dom,” said Dan Borowski, producer on WPHT’s Dom Giordano Show, where the episode sparked days of conversation — as he blamed Democratic officials like District Attorney Larry Krasner and Mayor Jim Kenney. The Philadelphia Citizen, often obsessed with the decline of our civic life, published two separate stories, including one headlined Spinning Toward Gomorrah and one by its editor Larry Platt that invoked the legendary 1964 New York City killing of Kitty Genovese, calling the episode “a metaphor for how we’ve chosen to be bystanders in our own democracy."

To some observers, though, the Kitty Genovese invocations — the famous New York Times story that 38 people watched her killing and did nothing has been thoroughly debunked — was a reminder of how the first draft of history is so often wrong. Thus, it was hardly a surprise when Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer came out a few days later and — having reviewed security camera footage from the car — said the version of the story that had been circulating for days “is simply not true — it did not happen.” Of possibly two passengers who filmed the assault, one tipped SEPTA police and was filming to provide evidence that could help convict the accused rapist in court.

In this case, my strong sense is that Bernhardt and SEPTA officials who spun the original version were not deliberately lying but instead far too eager to tie this horrific crime to the wider narrative that police leaders, cop unions and their “Blue Lives Matter” allies have been so desperate to promulgate after the 2020 police murder of George Floyd cast a harsh light on America’s warped ways of law enforcement. Police, the story goes, are not the problem but rather the thin blue line stopping cities from descending into anarchy. The problem is how often police are willing to spread disinformation, even blatantly lie in some cases, to make you believe it.

In New York City, for example, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea — on a nearly two-year crusade to claim, despite a complete lack of supporting evidence, that long-overdue state bail reforms are causing a spike in crime — held a news conference to claim that a man with 11 open criminal cases had been released on bail and then brutally assaulted a woman. The problem is that the man fingered by Shea was still behind bars when the crime occurred. When New York lawmakers pressed Shea on this and other falsehoods, the top lawman in America’s largest city seemed to suddenly develop amnesia, insisting “I do not know the case you’re referring to.”

You know how Alaska natives have 50 different words for snow? In the present crisis, we probably need at least a dozen or more words for the various police fogs of disinformation and out-and-out lying, since it seems to be taking multiple forms:

Lying to cover up police brutality and misconduct. Remember the now infamous initial May 2020 news release from the Minneapolis Police Department about Floyd’s death — Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction — in which the central fact that Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes was omitted? This is the most famous of many such cases in which police, with their ability to get their narrative implanted in the news media, created a false story of brutal encounter — a brand of dishonesty that’s only finally been undercut, by the advent of smartphone video.

» READ MORE: When media rely on what police say, they miss key truths about crime, black communities | Will Bunch

Lying about the underlying causes of crime. This has become critical in the 17 months since Floyd’s murder caused literally millions of Americans to march in protest, as storytelling becomes a critical way for Big Law Enforcement to stave off calls to dramatically shrink budgets and put more taxpayer dollars into the kind of public services that could reduce both crime and violent encounters with police. This actually traces back to 2015, when then-FBI Director James Comey claimed crime was rising because of a “Ferguson effect” that blamed Black Lives Matter protests — an effect that criminologists have largely debunked.

Lying, even, about COVID-19 vaccine mandates. It is the latest fad in police-fed disinformation, with the cantankerous head of the Chicago cop union, John Catanzara, comparing the once noncontroversial idea that requiring vaccines is a good way to protect the health of both officers and the public they serve to “Nazi (bleeping) Germany.” Although the vaccine controversy may appear to be outside of the ongoing debates about crime and punishment, in another sense it’s all of one piece. America’s cops — not all of them, but too many of them — feel they are waging a culture war against the changes that threaten their power. And as in any war, the truth is often the first casualty.

» READ MORE: To infect and serve: The cop vaccine crisis | Will Bunch Newsletter

The problem is that keeping citizens honestly informed, and preventing the widespread flow of disinformation, ought to be a critical element of keeping the public safe — the exact opposite of the present policing climate. In the SEPTA rape case, for example, the false narrative that any bystanders faced potential criminal liability only discourages citizens from coming forward in such cases, making it harder to prosecute the actual wrongdoers. Lying by law enforcement is a serious crime against a civil society. There should be harsh consequences.

And yet there rarely are consequences. We are currently seeing a dramatic example as former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who just this month seemingly lied about the reasons for, and his role in, a coverup of the 2015 police murder of a teenager named Laquan McDonald, is nonetheless cruising toward his confirmation as President Joe Biden’s U.S. ambassador to Japan.

There needs to be a lot more accountability from the news media, which — in its eagerness to fill up a news hole or a 30-minute broadcast — far too readily accepts police news releases as undisputed fact, despite law enforcement’s dismal track record on truthfulness. Police handouts should be treated not as gospel but with extreme skepticism, and the media fact-checking enterprise which targets lying politicians ought to be redirected to look more closely at the statements of law enforcement as it enters Donald Trumpian territory.

There needs to be a lot more accountability from mayors and the other public officials who are supposed to exert civilian control over these departments, lest we become a police state. When a police leader publicly lies — as NYC’s Shea did recently — they should be reprimanded or, in the most extreme cases, disciplined or even fired.

There needs to be a lot more accountability from district attorneys who too often uphold the regime of disinformation rather than serve as a civic watchdog. The term “testilying” gained common currency decades ago, yet law officers are rarely charged with perjury for these serious offenses. Indeed, it was a breath of fresh air when Philadelphia’s Krasner did file perjury charges recently against three city homicide detectives accused of lying on the stand in a failed, and disgraceful, effort to uphold the wrongful murder conviction of a man named Anthony Wright.

The lack of consequences for police lying is why — at a moment when the very legitimacy of our law-enforcement regime is being questioned (and deservedly so) — the fog of disinformation keeps getting thicker. When top cops go before the cameras and spread blatant falsehoods, they are not fighting crime. Arguably, they are committing it.


oldviolin Avatar

Location: esse quam videri
Gender: Male

Posted: Oct 18, 2021 - 5:50pm

 BlueHeronDruid wrote:
 Red_Dragon wrote:
Well, at least the dude won't be homeless for much longer.
Three hots and a cot...

BlueHeronDruid Avatar

Location: planting flowers

Posted: Oct 18, 2021 - 5:48pm

 Red_Dragon wrote:
Well, at least the dude won't be homeless for much longer.


rgio Avatar

Location: West Jersey
Gender: Male

Posted: Oct 18, 2021 - 3:09pm

 Red_Dragon wrote:
Yeah...that's not good...but saying "a number of witnesses" without any idea of ages, sex, physical ailments, etc. could be jumping to conclusions.  For example, if your 16-year-old daughter or 75-year-old grandmother and a friend were the witnesses, and the guy is 6'3"... it's a totally different situation than if the witnesses are the guys' friends.  Not enough detail, but allowing people to make their own assumptions gets more clicks.

Jus' sayin'

EDIT:  OK, the Inquirer says that other passengers were filming the incident on their cell phones and did nothing.   WTF is right.

Red_Dragon Avatar

Posted: Oct 18, 2021 - 2:47pm

What the hell, Philly?

meower Avatar

Location: i believe, i believe, it's silly, but I believe
Gender: Female

Posted: Jan 11, 2019 - 10:08am

 Proclivities wrote:
Honest Lou’s Pest Control Center, North Broad Street, Philadelphia, Photo by Martin Desht, 1997

lol they're still around, but in west philly now, we recently used them to help a family get rid of bed bugs


Proclivities Avatar

Location: Paris of the Piedmont
Gender: Male

Posted: Jan 11, 2019 - 8:41am

Honest Lou’s Pest Control Center, North Broad Street, Philadelphia, Photo by Martin Desht, 1997


Red_Dragon Avatar

Posted: Oct 10, 2018 - 6:45am

 JrzyTmata wrote: 

JrzyTmata Avatar

Posted: Oct 10, 2018 - 6:39am

Release the Kracken!
Art installation at the Philadelphia Navy Yard


ScottFromWyoming Avatar

Location: Powell
Gender: Male

Posted: Jun 5, 2018 - 1:36pm

 JrzyTmata wrote:

no snowballs were thrown, no greased poles were climbed. no horses punched. we're nice people!

Mm-hm. Right.

JrzyTmata Avatar

Posted: Jun 5, 2018 - 1:34pm

 ScottFromWyoming wrote:


no snowballs were thrown, no greased poles were climbed. no horses punched. we're nice people!

ScottFromWyoming Avatar

Location: Powell
Gender: Male

Posted: Jun 5, 2018 - 1:32pm

 JrzyTmata wrote: 

JrzyTmata Avatar

Posted: Jun 5, 2018 - 9:57am

PECO worker saves the day after heirloom wedding ring falls through Center City sidewalk grate


JrzyTmata Avatar

Posted: Feb 8, 2018 - 12:44pm

 kctomato wrote:
Everytime I hear or see something the Eagles fans have done I think of buzz and jrzy 

no one likes us, no one likes us,
no one likes us, we don't care...

kctomato Avatar

Posted: Feb 8, 2018 - 12:42pm

Everytime I hear or see something the Eagles fans have done I think of buzz and jrzy 

meower Avatar

Location: i believe, i believe, it's silly, but I believe
Gender: Female

Posted: Feb 5, 2018 - 12:02pm

we've hit a new low:



JrzyTmata Avatar

Posted: Jul 31, 2017 - 1:53pm

if you like old photos, I found this site with old Philadelphia photos

kcar Avatar

Posted: Jan 28, 2017 - 9:50pm

 meower wrote:



Lonely Planet names Philly No. 1 travel destination
Here's what Lonely Planet said about Philly: "Visited by Pope Francis, hosting the Democratic National Convention in July, and freshly crowned as the US's first and only World Heritage City (joining the ranks of Cairo, Paris and Jerusalem), Philly's on a roll. NYC's more neighborly neighbor is experiencing a transformation to its urban core, as many U.S. cities are right now. Craft breweries? Check. Hot new locavore restaurants? Big check. But Philadelphia is steadfastly managing to retain its historic roots and gritty flavor, as well as its affordability - a pleasant surprise for a city so cosmopolitan and accessible. Hands up to the sky, Rocky fans: celebrate the film's 40th anniversary in 2016 with a sprint up the 72 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art."

Great news! I'm very impressed. I dated a Bryn Mawr student decades ago and my travels through Philly to see her were scary. Good to read that things there have turned around in a big way. 

JrzyTmata Avatar

Posted: Jan 28, 2017 - 4:50pm

Philly now has a Kitten Cafe


Red_Dragon Avatar

Posted: Aug 8, 2016 - 8:17am

Philadelphia tells residents: Don't swim in dumpster pools
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