On June 1, 2020, a collection of peaceful protesters gathered on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in downtown Philadelphia. As curfew approached, the mostly young crowd began to be corralled by bike police officers. An escalation of events took place and 21-year-old Temple University engineering student named Evan Gorski was arrested. According to Philadelphia police, Gorski allegedly “assaulted a police officer by pushing him off a bike, causing him to break a hand.”
After spending almost two days in jail, the charges against Gorski were dismissed. It turns out that two videos of the very interaction that led to Gorski’s arrest are widely available on YouTube and Twitter. It also turns out that those videos contradict the police narrative of what happened on Monday before they arrested Gorski.
In the video, you can see Gorski on the bottom left of the screen. He has long hair in a ponytail and is wearing a football jersey. He is seemingly trying to quell the surging police forces, who have begun escalating the protest into a conflict. Gorski puts his hand over to grab at a protester who is being tugged and pulled by another police officer—possibly having a camera or something taken from him. It is at that point that one of the officers begins swinging a baton with full force. The officer—we will call him Lt. Worthless for the time being—then loses his baton as Gorski smartly grabs it away from him as he is being taken to the ground, and he throws the baton away from the officer. Lt. Worthless along with another officer then pin Gorski down with their knees.
As the video progresses, another police officer steps out in front of the men kneeling on Gorski to begin swinging his baton wildly at another protester, who apparently has become far too peaceful for the police to manage.
William Bender of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the officer in the video—the short and overweight one who seems to only have a middling skill set that includes wildly swinging a baton at peaceful protesters—is a high-ranking officer. According to the report, his name is Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna, and he makes a base salary of $126,339 per year and who knows how much in overtime on top of that, to be this terrible at his job. Philadelphia police declined to comment on the case.
Gorski’s attorney, R. Emmett Madden, told reporters that Gorski was struck in the head by the baton-wielding police officer and required medical attention. He says that the videos of the incident shot by other protesters and journalists helped get his client out from under these trumped-up charges. District attorney spokesperson Larry Krasner told the Inquirer: “The video is concerning in more than one way. The District Attorney’s Office and District Attorney Krasner himself carefully reviewed the case presented by the police, other evidence, and then declined it.”
As with most of these incidents, law enforcement used an approaching curfew as an excuse to begin agitating and moving groups of protesters, threatening them, and then finally opening up and creating violent conflicts. What we are seeing across our country is a macro version of what many Black Americans have been experiencing for hundreds of years.
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