You look so dumb right now

Philadelphia is at the center of the universe as our beloved editor-in-chief exits stage left. | Image: Morgan Burke

I had initially planned this, my final column as Philadelphia Weekly’s editor-in-chief, to read a lot different. 

In my head, this would have been me penning my thanks to the readers who have supported a mission of keeping alternative viewpoints alive since I took over this role in 2015. I had planned to reveal that I’ve been asked to chime in periodically on a writing capacity – but that the search is on for the next person – one eager to carry out the mission of offering a platform to conservative voices, believed to be among the voiceless here in Philadelphia. 

I’d planned to thank all of the staff I’ve worked with over the last five years, specifically the contributors who have delivered some really powerful content we felt fortunate to run across PW’s pages, given the history of this cultural vanguard. 

That was going to be the basis of this week’s missive. 

But all of that was prior to Monday. 

Before I witnessed the beyond graphic video of Walter Wallace Jr.  gunned down in front of his mother by Philadelphia police officers. Before I witnessed the city become a series of demonstrations in the name of injustice and police brutality by day before watching it fall victim to looting and vandalism by night. 

With that said, I’m switching it up to offer the following to the looters, thieves and robbers using Wallace’s name as an excuse to burn down and smash the business corridors of our communities – you are everything that’s wrong with Philadelphia. 

Frankly, you’re a fucking embarassment. 

Sadly, thanks to you, Walter Wallace Jr. who lived near the 6100 block of Locust Street won’t be remembered as the father of two who yearned for help from a mental health professional and not bullets from a police pistol. I’m unsure how that wasn’t made apparent after cops showed up to his home on three separate occasions on the same day.

Walter Wallace Jr. won’t be remembered as the poster child for why police nationwide need trained mental health professionals on staff ready to respond the same way a hostage negotiator would be called in during a standoff. If the police, its “Fraternal Order” and the City can’t come to an agreement on that, then I’m not sure which one is the bigger fraud. You don’t need more money for tasers, Commissioner, as you noted, but you do need money to hire someone with a master’s in psychology. 

Instead, Walter Wallace, Jr. will be remembered as the dude who kickstarted days (and nights) of looting throughout the city. That hair care emporium on 52nd and Chestnut streets can relate Wallace Jr.’s memory to this considering every local news station showed Philadelphians pulling up outside of it Tuesday morning to steal wigs and hair weave.

Apparel stores like Foot Locker and Snipes will recall this tragedy for the time Philadelphians once smashed their stores across the city to steal fucking Nike Air Jordans and Yeezys. Philadelphia’s older adults affected by the smash and grabs at area Walmart stores and CVS pharmacies will remember it as the time they weren’t able to get their prescriptions or were forced to take an alternative drug – praying the side effects didn’t affect them. 

“[We believed] George Floyd would assuredly kickstart some nationwide reform in how police deal with situations so that they don’t come to this. And then two months later, Rayshard Brooks gets shot in a Wendy’s parking lot.” 

Many of these same business corridors are already reeling from the impact of when Philly turned into a powder keg over the summer at the hands of George Floyd and compound that with the impact of COVID-19. Sitting at my desk Tuesday morning watching NBC10, Fox 29 and PHL17 all provide live aerial coverage of people walking out of that West Philly wig shop with boxes of wigs, hair extensions and other accessories was one of the most embarrassing things I’ve witnessed. 

Listen, I understand the anger. I really do. This summer, I was even momentarily naive enough to think that because the country was so furious, myself included, over the senseless killing of George Floyd that this assuredly would kickstart some nationwide reform in how police deal with situations so that they don’t come to this. 

And then two months later, Rayshard Brooks gets shot in a Wendy’s parking lot. 

“Thanks to the readers [and contributors] who have supported a mission of keeping alternative viewpoints alive alongside me since I took over this role in 2015.”

Now Wallace, which hits home given it happened right here at home, has again fueled a realization that when it comes to police some are just either too ill-equipped, ill-informed or just lack the basic cultural sensitivities to deescalate a situation before it turns into partially emptying a pistol clip into a human body. 

This anger has to go somewhere, and to be honest, I don’t know where. But I also know it doesn’t need to be directed at the small business owner just trying to make a living and thought the neighborhood where they set up shop was the best place to do it. Who knows, maybe some of that anger is directed at the sight of Black and Brown communities chock full of only liquor stores, dollar stores, sneaker shops and fast food restaurants – but that’s an entirely different column within itself. 

This is not the way I wanted to bid farewell to a publication in which I’ve learned so much and have so much appreciation for. But the anger I feel as I write this, to stay the course with what I’d originally planned instead of what you just read would have been beyond disingenuous.

  • Kerith Gabriel's Headshot

    Kerith Gabriel is the former editor-in-chief at Philadelphia Weekly but somehow hasn’t figured out that means he doesn’t have to write nearly as much. As a routine contributor, journalism has been in his blood since his beginnings as a sports writer over a decade ago for the Philadelphia Daily News.

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