By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – More than a dozen protesters rallied outside of the 35th Police District headquarters in North Philadelphia last week and used chalk to deface murals honoring fallen officers. It’s linked to a group calling for justice in a seven-month-old police shooting.READ MORE: Delaware Valley Elected Officials React To Texas School Shooting: 'These Victims Need More Than Thoughts & Prayers'
Video taken by an off duty officer shows protesters yelling at officers as they stand over the mural with chalk drawings scribbled on the ground and walls of the police district and on the murals of fallen officers John Pawlowski and Richard Lendell.
The words on the murals: “murderer,” “terrorist,” “traitor.”
“If you want to protest that’s fine, but when you destroy property at the place where we spend most of our time, we’re going to be upset about that,” says Derrick Wood, captain of the 35th Police District.
When asked how he felt seeing strong language on the memorials of his fellow officers, he responded “it’s disrespectful…that’s just how I feel about it.”READ MORE: Phillies, Zach Eflin Avoid Arbitration With 1-Year Contract With 2023 Mutual Option
Wood commended his officers for keeping their composure and for protecting the first amendment rights of the group. Police only made one arrest.
“She went too far when she started to write on the sidewalks right on the building,” says Wood.
The chalk drawings also included the words “Heng Dang Murderer” and “Nick Carrelli killed Brandon Tate-Brown.” A Flicker page linked to the very vocal Philly Coalition for REAL Justice attributed the vandalism to the group.
“There has not been any evidence linking us,” says Asa Khalif, who is a member of the Coalition, but was not there the day of the June 17th protest. “I don’t condone any violence. In my view, it was freedom of speech and an effort to get justice by bringing attention to the Brandon Tate-Brown case.”
“This becomes a distraction from the central issue,” says Rev. Mark Tyler, who is the pastor of Mother Bethel AME Church and a member of POWER. He supports the movement seeking federal intervention into the shooting of Brandon Tate-Brown and agrees that there’s no solid proof the coalition defaced the murals. Regardless of the culprit he says he wants the message to stay focused:MORE NEWS: Student At Coatesville Area Senior High School Stabbed 6 Times During Fight
“It’s not something I would do, it’s not something I would condone–if they are deceased and someone wants to pay them tribute- that should be respected,” says Tyler, “chalk can be gone in a matter of moments, but the blood that was spilled from Brandon Tate-Brown is a permanent stain.”