Supporters of suspended police Officer Ryan Pownall holding a benefit dinner for his family will have some unwanted guests this Sunday: Black Lives Matter activists are planning their own protest right outside the event.
Pownall was fired from the force for fatally shooting dirt biker David Jones in the back as he fled near Whitaker and Hunting Park avenues on June 8, after scuffling with Jones over an illegal gun that Jones dropped before running.
The benefit dinner “organized by friends and co-workers” is scheduled for Oct. 1 at the police union’s lodge in Northeast Philly. Attendees are asked to pay $40 for a dinner with a buffet, draft beer, a DJ, a raffle and Chinese auction, according to the public event page posted to Facebook for the benefit. Organizers declined to comment.
“Stand with Ryan. Back the blue,” the event flyer states. “All proceeds will go directly to the Pownall family.”
Black Lives Matter activists promptly organized a protest of their own, “Back the Black,” which is also set to take place at the same time, outside the FOP’s lodge.
“The Jones family can no longer celebrate with David,” organizers wrote on their Facebook event page. “So why should this officer’s co-workers be able to celebrate and raise money for a murderer. We’ll have protesters inside and outside until this benefit is shut down.”
These same activists previously protested outside Pownall’s Northeast Philly home in an incident that made national news.
FOP Lodge No. 5 President Jon McNesby told Jenice Dickinson of the Daily News that the benefit was to “help him [Pownall] get through the next few months without any money coming in.”
While Police Commissioner Richard Ross fired Pownall after determining that he violated departmental guidelines, his union contract guarantees him the right to an arbitration hearing which could determine whether or not he should get his job back.