Sensationalized Philadelphia Police-Murder Coverage Signals Our True Struggle

The city (and the nation) rises up upon news of a murdered police officer in Port Richmond.

The city (and the nation) its head after watching video of three men brutalized by Philadelphia Police.

The city (and the nation) conducts business as usual the other countless times a Philadelphian is murdered.

The city (and the nation) is happy to look the other way for the countless violent encounters provoked by Philadelphia or Camden Police, when not documented by a video camera.

The picture is grim. Our collective emotion– well managed most of the time–soars upon news of a murdered police. There is a nationwide manhunt. A 24-7 vigil takes place at the scene as local media cover the story indefinitely. This is the apropriate response to a murder. Any murder.

In a week, many of this will settle down and we’ll go back to 1-inch write ups for the other 400 residents murdered while living in this city. It’s not even hot out yet and we’re already trying to remember if there were 7 or 9 murders last weekend. It feels like blowback. A blow from the continuous cycle of state-sponsored violence that pervades our world. I think about how the Greeks thought a natural disaster was the wrath of the Gods. Events in the world show legitimate reason to believe a greater force is at work.

It is a struggle to face the truth: the value of a person’s life is regulated by the media. If they don’t report it, we don’t care. If we don’t care, they won’t report it. Mainstream journalism is now based on what’s cool, what’s emotional — and not necessarily the stories that are the most shameful. You will never see an in-depth report on what is at the root of our citywide murders, broken school system, and our bloating prison system, while considering the war in Iraq costs ### (thank you Iraq War Cost) and oil companies are making 12-figure profits annually (apparently Exxon Mobil’s recent profit of $10.9 billion this quarter alone was disappointing).

Our cities will die if we don’t use our collective resources to create jobs, working educational systems and affordable housing. We are cows heading to slaughter, placated by $600 checks and gas tax holidays. We are not in control of our country. How will we rise up to dramatically change directions?

Clearly our non-profit sector is keeping the machine humming, not overhauling it. I ponder NGO’s involvement in the overall plan to keep the rich richer and the poor poorer. If we managed to properly treat and rebuild away from our current system of poverty, what would happen to the job sector providing 25% of jobs in Philadelphia? The career-based approach to movement building is not a sustainable one.

I hope to explore this topic further in future posts throughout the summer.