Rickia Young, a 29-year-old black mother, has filed a second lawsuit in relation to an incident in which she was brutally beaten by Philadelphia police officers in front of her two-year-old son and 16-year-old nephew. This particular case did not get the attention it deserved when the encounter happened, but it is yet another reminder that police officers must be held accountable when they engage in misconduct as civilians are.
The incident occurred in October 2020 amid the George Floyd riots that were happening across the country. USA Today reported:
In October, Young was driving home with her 2-year-old son and 16-year-old nephew when she encountered a group of protesters just hours after police fatally shot 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man whose family had called for mental health help. Police had blocked off the street and Young attempted to make a U-turn, but stopped to avoid hitting the demonstrators.
Riley Ross, the attorney representing Young, explained that was when “officers wearing riot gear and wielding batons smashed her windows, pulled Young and her nephew from the vehicle, and beat them causing ‘significant injuries,’”
After assaulting her, officers handcuffed Young and separated her from her toddler and nephew. Only a few days later, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), which is the nation’s largest law enforcement union, posted a picture of a white female police officer holding Young’s son with a caption which read:
This child was lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia, wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness. The only thing this Philadelphia Police Officer cared about in that moment was protecting this child. We are not your enemy. We are the Thin Blue Line. And WE ARE the only thing standing between Order and Anarchy.
After being exposed and facing severe backlash on social media, the FOP deleted the post.
In September, the city of Philadelphia agreed to pay Young $2 million. But her attorney is calling for criminal charges against the officers who beat her. Some of these officers were fired for their conduct that night. But now, they are also suing the FOP for painting her son as a “neglected and abandoned child” in an effort to “promote its own political propaganda.”
Young’s lawyer savaged the FOP for cynically exploiting Young’s son for a photo op. He told NBC News:
“This was a picture of a white female police officer holding this Black boy. It’s not lost on us the symbolism that they tried to highlight with that post, as if she was the savior of that Black child and the only one who could save him.”
He continued, pointing out that “[t]he fact that the child was only in that police officer’s arms because of what the police themselves did to his mother and him makes that post all the more despicable.”
Ross’ comments were spot on. This was a disgusting display of government agents brazenly abusing their power and terrorizing an innocent civilian for no valid reason. The fact that the FOP had the audacity to exploit the situation by lying about a picture of an officer holding Young’s son is even more abhorrent. So far, only two of the officers involved have been fired, and the cases of the other 14 are still pending over a year after the encounter.
This type of situation illustrates the problem with creating an environment in which the “bad apples” are allowed to abuse their power with impunity. FEE’s Olivia Rondeau also discussed this problem:
This unfortunate incident is a vivid example of police departments and unions working together to create a culture in which common folk allow and praise the monopoly that law enforcement has on violence because they’d feel unsafe without it. The Philadelphia Police Department took advantage of an already chaotic situation to sow more division, and then the FOP capitalized on that division even further by turning their actions into propaganda. It’s not difficult to figure out what the intentions were behind posting a picture of a supposedly abandoned black child in the arms of a white officer in the midst of a protest against the department.
Rondeau also noted:
The racially-charged photo that stoked the flames on social media at the expense of a mother and her family’s safety and reputation was caused by taxpayer-funded government employees and promulgated by a dishonest public sector union. Why should our money be used, not only to fund this corruption, but to also bail them out when victims like Young (rightfully) sue for millions of dollars?
These settlements come from taxpayer dollars. Ultimately, the problem with police unions stems from public sector unions in general. The lack of accountability that these unions face because of their protection from the government is at the root of the problem.
As conservatives, we tout the principle of “Law & Order.” It is one of the mantras that we often repeat, especially when it comes to the violent riots that the hard left tends to support. But, it is essential that we remember that this phrase must also apply to law enforcement officers, just as it does to ordinary citizens. Unfortunately, this has not historically been the case.
Police officers are rarely held accountable when they abuse their authority. It is highly uncommon that an officer will be fired for misconduct. It is even more unusual that they would be arrested and convicted even when they commit violent crimes.
This reality has impacted many civilians, one of which was George Floyd, who was murdered by Derek Chauvin, who had 17 complaints against him before the encounter. If we wish to be taken seriously when discussing law and order, we must be just as willing to apply the term to government officials who have been granted the authority to violate our rights when they deem it necessary. Otherwise, the tyranny of which we are all concerned will be more likely to materialize.