Over the weekend, a video went up online purporting to show a white male ripping down Black Lives Matter posters and art that were put up along a chainlink fence just outside of a Philadelphia community center. In the video, the man says that his tax dollars “pay for” the fence, which gives him the right to pull down the artwork … put up on the fence by other people whose tax dollars pay for that fence. The circular logic of a racist never ceases to amaze. “My taxes pay for this place. So I can do whatever I want.”
Besides not being a true thing to say, it’s also a dumb thing to say. In fact, one might even say it shows that this man’s brain is filled with lots of dumb things to say. The person filming says they live in the area this stupid, anger-filled man has decided that he has full control over. The person in the video says “Black Lives Matter,” to which the man replies: “Not to me they don’t.” Unfortunately for this ignorant man, people online were able to identify him as a Philadelphia Family Court supervisor. Now 61-year-old Michael Henkel is out of a job. Thoughts and prayers.
That same Twitter reporter then did some snooping into things.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Henkel’s job disappeared on Monday after he was identified as the man who apparently owns all of Philadelphia’s fences. Family Court spokesperson Marty O’Rourke told the paper that Henkel had been terminated, having violated “multiple” codes of conduct and nondiscrimination policies. “The Court takes the incident very seriously and believes Mr. Henkel’s behavior as shown in the video is egregious and totally unacceptable for an employee of the Courts.”
Henkel has reportedly worked for the city since 1992 and made just over $70,000 a year in salary. That Henkel’s job was making sure that everyone connected to Family Court proceedings was informed about court dates and other important information in a city where almost half the population is Black is an affront to everything people fighting for racial equality stand for. And while Mr. Henkel’s mind may not be changed, and the thick skull from which his dumb ideas come may not be penetrated by this new turn of events, the city has a chance to hire someone who does care about people’s lives. They should also begin reviewing his case log—it’ll be a lot of work, but it’s the least we can do. The least.
The children’s posters and signs that Henkel was filmed tearing down were a part of a children’s peaceful protest on Friday calling for the end of police presence in public schools.
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