- Associated Press - Sunday, December 21, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and other officials condemned the shooting deaths of two New York City officers, and the commissioner warned officers to be careful and alert.

The gunman in Brooklyn had announced online Saturday that he planned to kill officers in retaliation for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner, authorities said. The officers were sitting in their patrol car in broad daylight when they were shot.

Ramsey urged those leading local protests over the deaths of Garner and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, to “call for calm and not let this escalate any further,” The Philadelphia Inquirer (https://bit.ly/13PegCq ) reported.

The commissioner said he worries about “the environment that we are in now, with … some of the people chanting ‘We want dead cops.’ You just don’t know who that impacts, and now you have two officers dead, leaving behind families.”

Officer Christine O’Brien, a Philadelphia police spokeswoman, called the shootings “a horrible act of terror” but said officers are regularly urged to use special caution when an officer is killed elsewhere.

“We continuously reiterate officer safety anytime an officer is killed in the line of duty anywhere in the country,” she said Sunday.

Local Fraternal Order of Police lodge President John McNesby said the protests add tension to an already dangerous job.

Mayor Michael Nutter said he joined Philadelphia residents “in expressing our utter disgust” with the killings.

“This cruel and irrational act was perpetrated by a person who wanted to make a statement about police-community relations,” the mayor said in a statement Sunday. “Instead, he underlined the evil of violence.”

Nutter said Americans must acknowledge “that we have a clear problem with violence in our country” but needed “citizens and police officers alike” to commit to nonviolence.

Activists, meanwhile, planned a march called BlackOut Philly in Center City on Sunday night to express concern about the killings of unarmed black men, some at the hands of police.

Raheem Harvey, 25, one of the organizers, said the event will end in front of the statue of former Mayor Frank Rizzo, who had a contentious relationship with black residents during his tenure in the 1970s.

“To me that statue represents a lot of the police brutality in Philadelphia,” Harvey told the Inquirer.

O’Brien said police would be on hand to ensure the safety of marchers and bystanders.

“We will handle this just like any march or protest,” O’Brien said. “The marchers are entitled to their First Amendment rights.”

Harvey said he believes police too often are not held accountable for their actions, and he hopes the event will lead to discussion with police representatives to address racial tension and police activity.

“We are not against police,” Harvey said. “We are against police brutality, racism and capitalism.”


Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, https://www.inquirer.com

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