You obviously couldn’t expect a heavily Democratic city like Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to stay out of the Confederate monument removal story, right? They’re as big on protesting there as any of their other major metropolitan brothers and sisters. So it should come as no surprise that they’ve had protesters out on the steps of the city plaza on a regular basis calling for the removal of a statue of former Mayor (and Police Commissioner) Frank Rizzo.
Wait a minute… Frank Rizzo was in the Confederacy?
Rizzo was a colorful figure to be sure, much like many other leaders of the Democratic Party machine in the City of Brotherly Love. (One of his more famous quotes during his campaign for a second term as mayor was reported to be, “Just wait after November. You’ll have a front row seat because I’m going to make Attila the Hun look like a faggot.”) So anyway, though he didn’t actually fight in the Civil War, the protesters are mad at him about… something.
But that’s not the real story here. One of the protesters who happens to be a teacher allowed his famous Philly temper to get the better of him and decided to threaten some of the cops guarding the statue with physical violence. That ended pretty much as you’d probably expect. (NBC Philadelphia)
A Philadelphia school teacher was charged early Saturday with allegedly making terroristic threats against a police officer during a protest at the Rizzo statue Aug. 16, according to court documents.
John Sheerin, 63, of Crescentville, is seen on a video shot by local reporter and columnist Helen Ubiñas during protests in the shadow of the statue for Frank Rizzo, a former mayor and police commissioner. (Warning: The video contains extremely graphic language.)
A phone number for Sheerin went to voicemail, which indicated that the mailbox was full and a message could not be left.
Sheerin isn’t just “a teacher.” He is (or at least was) an elementary school teacher. Hopefully he managed to hold both his tongue and his temper a bit better than this in the classroom. I won’t print the quotes of what he said while screaming at the cop, but you can hear most of it (with some strategic bleeping) in this brief NBC video report.
I suppose we should be trying to draw some deeper meaning out of this regarding the ongoing monument protests, the erasure of history and all the rest. But seriously… this is Philly we’re talking about here. I worked there for years and lived right across the Walt Whitman Bridge in Jersey. These are the folks who threw ice packed snowballs at Santa Clause during an Eagles game and pelted their own coach with batteries. It’s the home of Little Nicky Scarfo and Angelo Bruno.
While I’m not condoning this behavior at all, we probably do need to put it in context. What Sheerin did probably would qualify as making terrorist threats in most parts of the country. But in Philly, telling a cop to come meet you at your house so you can kick his ****ing a** is more along the lines of something you’d hear if he just didn’t like the look on your face.
Still, the deed is done and Sheerin has been arrested. As to what happens to the statue of Rizzo, that’s a tough call to make. He was, as I said, a Democrat (until he switched parties for a few years at the end of his life), not to mention being Italian. For all his rough spots he was, and probably remains, a very popular figure in that city. Tearing the statue down might not go over so well. And if protesters do it by force without authorization, well… you might want to watch out for flying batteries.