Search and seizure affects more than the young men whose cheeks have been scrubbed with plastic sticks. Both psychology experts and police believe the Strangler lives in Kensington, so the push is to get residents to speak up. At the mayor’s press conference, D.A. Seth Williams implored, “We’re here to reach out to the community, to get information, uh, we need your help.”
Aggressively swabbing random men on the street isn’t exactly greasing the wheels of communication between residents and police.
The deep mistrust between Kensington residents and police is partly why a perpetrator like the Strangler—who may be known in the neighborhood—can vanish for almost three months in plain sight.
Perhaps Bucceroni expressed the point of view of embittered residents best while his rage was fresh. Hours after Sanchez told him about the incident, Bucceroni appeared on an episode of The Richie Antipuna Show, a local cable access show produced in Kensington.
“This is why the young black males in Kensington, and the young Latinos, aren’t forthcoming … the police department talks about ‘Don’t use vigilante justice,’ but they’re quick to violate a young brother of color’s rights, and threaten him with jail and incarceration and have their hands on their guns, for doin’ nothing but being law-abiding citizens. This fuckin’ shit can’t be going on.”
“This is how the Philadelphia Police Department treats its people who volunteer to be helpful to the police,” he says, fingers jabbing at the camera. “That was some punk-ass fucking shit.”
“If this was some black minister group, and not young Latino males, this shit—you’d have Al Sharpton down here fuckin’ protestin’. If this was white America—upper-class white America—you’d have … some cracker-fabulous motherfucker down here protesting. But it’s OK to violate young Latino males in Kensington.”
At the end of his rant, Bucceroni promised to reach out “to you motherfuckers.” And reach out he did. In addition to calling Ramsey, Bucceroni contacted or communicated with the offices of Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Everett Gillison, Deputy Commissioner Stephen Johnson, the D.A.’s Office and Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez, and filed a second formal complaint with the Police Advisory Commission (the city-run office for civilian oversight of the Police Department).
To Catch A Killer
As police head into the third month of hunting the Strangler, the search is getting more high-tech as it climbs up the chain.
The FBI lent the PPD an analyst for a week to teach officers how to load all case-related activities into a “virtual command center” and the Department’s implementing systems necessary to generate a complete psychological profile of the Strangler. Just this week, Denver’s District Attorney Mitch Morrissey publicly offered to help Philadelphia police with familial DNA sequencing to help them catch the Kensington Strangler.
Sanchez is cool with that—anything to catch the killer—within reason. He says he would have gladly given up his DNA under different circumstances. “If [they] would have asked me nicely … if someone approached me and said, ‘A couple of people think you fit the description, we want you to take the swab,’ well, I would have agreed to it. You know?” he shrugs. “But the way you all approached me, I was like, ‘Damn, you’re making me feel like a criminal.’”
Additional reporting by Aaron Kase.
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