THERE WERE shouts of agreement and head nods in a crowded North Philadelphia mosque last night as Muslim Minister Rodney Muhammad lashed out at the city's response to the videotaped beating of three suspects by city cops.
As he spoke at the NOI Mosque No. 12, at Broad and Cumberland streets, nearly 100 people called out in a collective cry of frustration over what they feel is a lack of justice in the May 5 incident.
National attention on the beating has waned, but in Philadelphia, the ripple effects continue to spread even after the announcement this week that four of the officers involved have been fired.
Hours before the community meeting, about 80 people gathered at 15th and Market streets to rally and march to demand an even harsher response from the city. Among them was Pam Africa, who is known for her affiliation with the radical group MOVE. She expressed her disgust with police.
"The Philadelphia Police Department, those cops abused their power," she yelled to the crowd. "They were not supposed to beat those youth, maim those youth.
"They [were] not supposed to be judge, prosecutor and executioner and all because that's what they did."
Africa is part of the International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a convicted cop-killer.
The mid-afternoon rally lasted about two hours as the group marched to District Attorney Lynne Abraham's office, where Africa cried out: "We should not be standing here alone . . . The lawyers of this city should say to each other this is wrong. Demand that these cops be locked up."'
Standing in front of the D.A.'s Office was Leomia Dyches, mother of Dwayne Dyches, 24, one of the beating victims, all of whom are charged in a shooting.
"When you see these white officers running around beating up three black children, young men - how were they raised? What are their morals?" she asked.
Last night, Dyches sat in the front row of the mosque listening to A. Bruce Crawley talk about the need for the black community to not shy away from their anger.
Crawley - founder of the African American Chamber of Commerce who's now head of Millennium 3 Management Inc. - said the treatments of Dyches and the two other men beaten and arrested, Pete Hopkins, 19, and Brian Hall, 23 , was a result of the passive attitude that he said permeates the African-American community.
"I wonder why there isn't more righteous indignation over this," he said. "What was missing was the appropriate outrage from the community."
In an unprecendented move, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey not only fired the four officers but demoted a sergeant and suspended three others. That action is being challenged by the Fraternal Order of Police.
Crawley said "four people are not enough."