Tensions Running High in Port Richmond in Wake of Recent Violence

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 12 | Posted Sep. 23, 2011

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As expected, more residents and city officials than usual showed up at Port Richmond’s town-hall meeting this week to discuss recent violent incidents that have terrorized the neighborhood.

“Here’s where the frustration lies for us,” began officer Thomas Davidson, captain of the 24th, at district headquarters on Whitaker Avenue. “We made arrests, we neutralized the threat. But still—and I’ve reached out in the community several times, over and over again—to find out, ‘Why is this happening in Port Richmond? What is the real reason?’”

As PW reported last week, residents are reeling from a string of violent attacks that occurred two weekends ago—including one on Sept. 9 in which a mob of mostly black and Latino men kicked in the front door of 37-year-old resident Mark Lavelle and assaulted him with a pipe in front of his wife and children. Three people were arrested, including a minor.

The next afternoon, another group rolled up to Lavelle’s house and, according to Lavelle, repeatedly called him a “white motherfucker” while threatening him if he brings the case to court. One of the people making the threats was reportedly the mother of a kid who flashed a gun at Lavelle during the attack.

Later that same night, mayhem erupted a few blocks away on Mercer Street, which runs alongside the A&W playground. Cops and kids were everywhere and men were stabbed. The street party ended after 38-year-old Alfred Cruttenden screeched up in his car and waved a gun at police, who shot him twice. He remains in stable condition.

On the street and online, reasons for the neighborhood violence vary. Some allege the weekend’s events kicked off with a fight in Campbell Square that was a result of a white kid pushing a black kid off a bike. Another theory holds that kids from Fishtown came looking for trouble with kids from Port Richmond.

Whether it’s race or turf or a combination of both, the phrase “coming over” is used a lot—sometimes it’s referring to people from surrounding neighborhoods, and sometimes it’s referring to people from the west side of Aramingo Avenue, an unofficial dividing line in Port Richmond.

“We can sit here and theorize till we’re blue in the face … but … only one person outside A&W was from outside the neighborhood. Which means it’s people from the neighborhood,” Davidson said.

One of two men who came late to the town-hall meeting said he lives near the Stokely playground—a breeding ground for trouble a few blocks from Lavelle’s house—and stood up to speak.

“On September 9 there was nothing less than a flash mob that came from the other side of Aramingo,” the resident said. “Straight across? Just to let you know the neighborhood is quite upset about it … just to let you know, phone trees have been established … and if it were to happen again, the men of the neighborhood will be out.”

His friend stood up and echoed that sentiment.

“I was there when the kids were lying down on the street with the police and one of the officers on duty said, ‘What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be in this area. You know you’re looking for trouble.’ It’s a free country of course. But unfortunately, things get mixed up where people are coming over and not just kids, it’s adults coming over and threatening.”

Later in the meeting, when a third man stood up and vaguely referred to a plan of action coordinated among the men in the community—which came off as thinly veiled promise of swift vengeance—Officer Tina Willis responded.

“You mean, you’ll call 911, right?”

The room laughed nervously.

A woman raised her hand and cut to the chase.

“I’m afraid to let my 9-year-old out in the afternoon,” she said. “Because I’m afraid of what might happen.”

Since the attack on Lavelle, Veronica Szymanski—who works in the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations—has been pounding the pavement, talking to residents, kids in the park, staff at Carroll Charles High School, trying to get “a temperature” on the situation in Port Richmond, a traditionally Polish and Irish community bordered by Hunting Park and Kensington, communities with larger populations of Hispanics and blacks.

Szymanski, who works to de-escalate inter-group violence in the 24th, 25th and 15th district, was at the town-hall meeting to re-enforce the message from the D.A.’s Office.

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Comments 1 - 12 of 12
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1. hateportsh*tmond said... on Sep 23, 2011 at 07:10PM

“Oh, poor Port Richmond...blah,blah,blah...The entire area is a shit-hole filled with graffiti, trash, scummy bars on every corner, and toothless fat women. Kids here are street urchins from early childhood. I don't see small kids in at dusk, I see these little bastards out till 11:00pm on school nights no less. But who cares? not their missing in action mothers & fathers, no one cares. You know why...because these kids have no future anyway. 12 years of worthless catholic school won't get them into college or help them find a job. Gangs, fighting, crime - is all part of the NOW & the FUTURE of this dumpy area of the city....This place is filled with ugly repulsive people, inside & out.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Sep 26, 2011 at 09:05AM

“hateportsh*tmond I think you have your neighborhoods mixed up, what you wrote descibes fishtown..”

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3. Cain4President said... on Sep 27, 2011 at 11:33AM

“Bring those racists to my house .. trust me- kick my door down and between me and the misses, we can unload plenty of brass with the 12 gauge Remington and Springfield 357 she has.. Only in a liberal city would someone get beaten in his own home!! These gun control lobbyists are ruining the security of this country- If everyone assumed everyone might own a gun- people would think twice about kicking down a door and beating up a homeowner all on a whim.”

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4. Anonymous said... on Sep 27, 2011 at 01:06PM

“Everybody says there is this RACE problem. Everybody says this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY white country and ONLY into white countries.

The Netherlands and Belgium are just as crowded as Japan or Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve this RACE problem by bringing in millions of third worlders and quote assimilating unquote with them.

Everybody says the final solution to this RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries to “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-whites.

What if I said there was this RACE problem and this RACE problem would be solved only if hundreds of millions of non-blacks were brought into EVERY black country and ONLY into black countries?

How long would it take anyone to realize I’m not talking about a RACE problem. I am talking about the final solution to the BLACK problem?

And how long would it take any sane black man to notice this and what kind of psycho black man wouldn’t object to this?

But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white.

Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.

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5. Anonymous said... on Sep 27, 2011 at 02:03PM

“They drove all the way from Feltonville to attack some white teenagers--any white would do. Non-whites have taken over most of the City. Can't they just stay the heck out of Port Richmond to avoid trouble?”

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6. Anonymous said... on Sep 27, 2011 at 08:42PM

“Define "hate".

Would Demanding that all black countries and only black countries be flooded with 100`s of millions of racial aliens and telling everyone to mix in until only black people disappear from the face of the Earth, be hatred?

If that would be obvious genocidal hatred against black people, then why isn't it obvious genocidal hatred, when "anti-racists" demand the same for white people?

Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.”

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7. dumb liberal states said... on Sep 28, 2011 at 01:29AM

“I would like to see these punk thugs trying to do this in Texas. They would get whats coming to thme real fast. Even the cops here will tell you not to waste time trying to call 911. Here we take care of buisness. You can call 911 after you protect yourself and neighbors. And yes that means shoot to kill.”

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8. Anonymous said... on Sep 28, 2011 at 01:34AM

“If their parents didn't raise their children like crazed crack heads and taught them to have manners. See what a welfare and nanny system does to you. I love Texas. Glad I live in an outlaw state where you ask questions later.”

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9. James P. Olson said... on Sep 29, 2011 at 07:08AM

“Where was this nice lady's effort to de-escalate the situation when a mob of black and latino men decided their action plan was to beat a random white homeowner?”

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10. Anonymous said... on Sep 29, 2011 at 10:33AM

““Whereveryou find the Negro everything is going down around him, and wherever youfind the White man you see everything around him improving.” –RobertE. Lee, to Col. Thomas H. Carter, May, l965

We have two options: fight back or move. You're dealing with what seems like an alien race. It's all about race, and we are not all the same. No where in the WORLD will you find a peaceful, vibrant, growing black community. They are what they are. We cannot change that. So quit debating with them and defend your family.”

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11. stupid black feces said... on Oct 1, 2011 at 11:04PM

“I would have shot every worthless sub-chimp scum that was on my porch”

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12. Demetrius Robbins said... on Jul 31, 2014 at 09:00PM

“Over the past seven years,I've visited this park with all 20 of my nephews and nieces. Not once have anything ever happened to us. This is by far,the safest place for us to visit.”


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Last weekend in Port Richmond was one of the most violent in recent memory, and it all took place within a few blocks and in or near parks that residents say increasingly attract trouble after dark. It all started Friday night when a fight broke out in Campbell Square Park.