While the family and lawyer of Brandon Tate-Brown was speaking to media Wednesday afternoon, a handful of protesters walked up with a bullhorn, shouting over the press conference, chanting “Black lives matter!”
It was a small taste of what’s expected on Thursday afternoon when a “Philly is Baltimore” protest is scheduled to take place at 4:30 p.m. outside City Hall.
Tanya Brown-Dickerson, mother of 26-year-old Tate-Brown, who according to police and prosecutors was killed after a traffic stop in December while running for a gun in his car, is now suing the Philadelphia Police Department over her son’s death.
The suit seeks damages for Tate-Brown’s death and also for the court to take jurisdiction over planned “use of force” reforms in the police department which were ordered by by a federal Department of Justice review of the department.
That review found “policy, training and operational deficiencies” within the department.
These “‘deficiencies’ increase the risk of harm to members of the public interacting with police in use of force … situations,” the lawsuit states. “Persons coming into contact with police in use of force situations are in imminent danger of harm.”
During the press conference, multiple speakers drew parallels between Tate-Brown’s death and that of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, as well as other highly-publicized deaths of black men at the hands of police around the country.
“What you see in Baltimore is no different than what we live through in Philly. Young people are sick of racial profiling and police brutality,” said Asa Khalif, an activist and the cousin of Tate-Brown.
“What’s happening in Philadelphia, in particular with relation to Brandon, is part of a narrative … that says black life does not matter,” said Rev. Mark Tyler of Mother Bethel AME Church. “If you kill someone African-American, you will get away with it.”
Tyler observed that, like Baltimore, Philadelphia has prominent black leadership: from mayor and police chief to the majority of city council.
“It doesn’t matter if you have a black mayor like in Philadelphia. The outcome is pretty much the same,” he said. “We need a real cultural shift.”