It's safe to say that when Philly's top officials offer only mealy-mouthed "don't condone" messages about vigilantism -- but fail to bring charges against it AND pay out $10,000 rewards for it, a message has been sent: Vigilantism is awesome in Philly.
While they would not endorse the street justice doled out to 26-year-old Jose Carrasquillo, neither would they condemn the actions of an impassioned community confronted with a horrific crime.
"I don't condone violence," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said yesterday.
Although "members of the community were very upset over this, and some may have used more force than a trained police officer," none will be charged, he said.
In fact, those who stopped Carrasquillo on Clearfield Street near Lee Street and eventually beat him into the hospital stand to share a $10,000 reward offered by the Fraternal Order of Police.
The money will be disbursed once Carrasquillo is formally charged with the rape and investigators identify those who "stepped up" to detain him, FOP president John McNesby said.
Will Bunch offered up some perceptive criticisms of Mayor Nutter on this issue overnight:
Here's a guy who -- in my opinion -- is seeing his popularity and maybe even his re-election floating down the tubes because of his halting responses to a very real fiscal crisis, and so now he may think he's getting back into Philadelphia's good graces by playing to the mob, in the Roman tradition. That's pretty low, not to mention a poor calculation. This is a city that needs a leader -- someone who'll actually condemn this sort of thing in no uncertain terms, popular or not -- and not someone chasing after an emotional crowd, begging for its approval.
Bill O'Reilly sure does love Philadelphia. He did a segment last night about the Kensington mob that beat the rape suspect -- and while we don't watch the show, nor can we find a video or transcript of the segment -- we're reliably told that he suggested the vigilantes should be prosecuted for taking the law into their own hands.