Philadelphia Police commissioner Charles Ramsey made what were probably his most candid remarks to date about issues surround police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement and how it relates to prison reform.
While apparently getting his hair trimmed, Ramsey spoke last week to listeners at a local barbershop about how, yes, there are dirty cops out there. But he said that at the end of the year, “you’re still going to have 10,000 black people dead in this country.”
“Yeah, I’ve got bad cops. Ain’t no doubt about it,” he conceded. “But why are you locking your car door? Why do you have alarms on your house? Why are we talking about cameras? Why are you scared to walk out at night? Is it because you’re scared of the police, or because you’re scared of the guy that’s standing on the corner waiting for you to come by?”
Ramsey, the longtime police officer who’s been the top cop in Philly since 2007, has offered commentary on the Black Lives Matter movement before, saying at a TED talk in June that “police have not always stood on the right side of justice.”
Here’s the full video that’s making the rounds on Facebook (click to play):
Here are Ramsey’s full remarks from the video:
It’s not going to fix itself. It’s just not. That movement has the potential of being the most significant civil rights movement since the 60s. Now that’s saying a lot. But you’ve got to leverage and take advantage of that
If there were no shootings by police in the entire year… You know we average in this country almost 16,000 murders a year? About 10,000 of them are African Americans. You’re still going to have 10,000 black people dead in this country at the end of the year. What have you fixed? Nothing. Nothing.
So we need to get off the stuff about well you know… Yeah, I’ve got bad cops. Ain’t no doubt about it. We get rid of them, charge them criminally, do whatever you’ve got to do. But why are you locking your car door? Why do you have alarms on your house? Why are we talking about cameras? Why are you scared to walk out at night? Is it because you’re scared of the police, or because you’re scared of the guy that’s standing on the corner waiting for you to come by?
You doggone right. So let’s not B.S. each other here, and let’s fix it and deal with the issue of reintegration. People need to get… if you’ve done wrong and done your time and you come back out, you ought to be able to get a job. You ought to be able to vote. You ought to have full rights restored to you at some point in time. If you want people to behave differently, than don’t treat them differently.
There are going to be some that will re-offend, because that’s what they do, but there’s an awful lot that wouldn’t if given an opportunity, if given the chance, won’t bother being incarcerated. To bring up their literacy skills if that’s whats lacking. Communication skills. Job skills. All those things that you need, so when you do come out, you can assimilate into the rest of society a lot better. But we pay lip service to it.
And even now when you hear people, “oh we want to eliminate, we want to reduce the prison population by 35, 40 percent, and so forth.” OK fine. You can do that today. Open the doors and let that many people out. But what are they coming to? What’s waiting for them on the other side? And if there ain’t nothing there, what do you think they’re going to do? What would you do?
We’ve all got to eat. We all have to survive. Not just once every six months. Every day. So if you don’t have something for those folks, what are you going to do?