Telling a crowd of supporters that the civil rights of African Americans are more important than her arrest, social worker Nicol Newman announced Thursday that she wants a trial on her summary offense charge of disorderly conduct.
Newman, 48, and her attorney, Michael Coard, had a brief appearance before city Trial Commissioner Marsha Floyd, where Newman rejected pleading guilty or going into a first-offender diversion program in connection with the March 9 incident at her home.
Floyd set April 19 for a trial before a Municipal Court judge.
Much of the courtroom, and the hall outside, was packed with about 30 supporters, including Minister Rodney Muhammad, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, and Matthew Smith, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Action Network.
Newman appeared Wednesday for a news conference at NAACP headquarters in North Philadelphia where she alleged that two white detectives violated her civil rights by forcing her from her Southwest Philadelphia home and making her spend a night in a police district cell.
Coard said police went to Newman's house to arrest her son on theft charges. Because her son was not home and police had no search warrant, Coard said, Newman did not let detectives inside.
Coard said Newman was then forcibly taken from her home, charged with disorderly conduct, and held overnight in lockup.
Philadelphia police said the department's Internal Affairs unit is investigating Newman's complaint.
After her court appearance, Newman's voice cracked as she thanked supporters, telling them, "This is about more than just me."
Coard said it is time for police "to stop denigrating and disrespecting black people. What would have happened if four or five black detectives went up to the Northeast and grabbed a white woman out of her house?"
Muhammad said he was "tired of black men asking if this woman was hurt. When your dignity isn't respected, that's a hurt. You are hurt."