Tragic events sure do unleash the crazy.
People start making no sense at all.
Take this week’s nearly eight-hour standoff in the 3700 block of North 15th Street in the Tioga section of North Philadelphia that left six cops injured. Even before Maurice Hill was arrested, people had nicknamed him “Jawn Wick” after Keanu Reeves’ violent character in the 2014 movie John Wick.
Stay with me, because there’s more. Certain soulless individuals had the audacity to be online actively egging on the suspect to shoot even more cops, and cheering him on as if he were some sort of modern-day Robin Hood. “Jawn Wick” was actively trending on Twitter.
“On social media they were saying how bad a motherf—er he was for shooting police,” pointed out Bilal Quayyum, an antiviolence activist who’s also on the Police Advisory Commission. “There’s a big division between the community and the police.”
That division has been on full display since Wednesday’s standoff.
So, even though it will be a long time before we forget how the police carried babies to safety in their arms and successfully brought the shooter in alive, the incident exposed an ugliness that has long festered under the surface — distrust and hatred of police.
Cellphone video clips began circulating of some people who appeared to be heckling and throwing objects at police after they confiscated a drone that had been flying in the vicinity of the standoff.
This was a small but hostile group, according to what I could tell. As an African American, I get their distrust of police. It’s nothing new. It’s something that’s been a problem since forever.
Still, it doesn’t justify their behavior.
Meanwhile, there’s a flier being circulated on social media promoting a “Free Maurice Hill” protest that was scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Friday at Germantown and Lehigh.
Only about a dozen people attended, mostly relatives of Willie Wise, a 34-year-old who was shot to death in March by a security guard at the My Phillie Wireless store at Broad and Lehigh.
“It’s going to take a thousand Maurice Hills to get justice for Willie Wise,” Diop Olugbala, 42, said at Broad and Lehigh.
He said the group had planned to march before Wednesday’s police shooting, and he praised the accused shooter for taking a “righteous stand.”
David White, Hill’s cousin, was one of the participants. “This all turned into a hostile situation," he said. "Someone randomly ran into his house, and he’s always willing to defend himself.”
I’m glad that more demonstrators didn’t come out in support of Hill, who reportedly showed no regard for human life.
As Police Commissioner Richard Ross said, “It’s a miracle” that no one was seriously injured. People could have been killed. Bullet holes are in people’s houses. Car windows are shattered. People are on edge.
It’s going to take more than a minute to get over this.
Making matters worse, you have those like President Donald Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, who tried to exploit the tragedy by maligning Mayor Jim Kenney, tweeting, “What Philly sorely needs is a competent mayor who sufficiently respects and resources our brave men and women of law enforcement.” Mind you, the mayor of the nation’s sixth largest city was experiencing the biggest crisis of his political career. Instead of getting support from Washington, he was held up as a subject of derision.
And let’s not forget William McSwain, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who used the opportunity to take ridiculous potshots at Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and blame him for the shooting.
But as I said earlier, tragic situations like what we experienced bring out the crazy. Sometimes, the best you can do is not hop on the crazy bus too.