Student voices: Workshop Students Share Opinions on Police Presence

By Jamell Williams

After the non-indictments in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases, students and staff at the Workshop School shared their opinions on the police presence in their neighborhood.

Drina Davis, a 9th grader, shared her thoughts about her West Philadelphia neighborhood. “I don’t feel no type of way about the police in my neighborhood. Everytime they call the cops they take forever to come or show up.”

Mikaya Harrell-Davis, a 9th grader, also lives in West Philadelphia. She said about the cops, “They are racist and cruel to blacks. White cops call black poeple niggas.”

Jamell Williams, a 9th grader, had a similar opinion about West Philadelphia police officers. “The cops are sometimes cruel to kids in the neighborhood because they are black and look suspicious. If you are person of color you get followed until they see you’re not doing something.”

Kathleen Melville, a 9th grade teacher, had a different opinion about her neighborhood. “I really don’t have any interactions with the police in my neighborhood but sometimes it bothers me that they dont always follow the rules that are enforcing. I do not think I have ever seen or heard any racist things going on between police in the neighborhood.” The difference may be that Melville lives in South Philadelphia, not West Philadelphia.

The population of African Americans in West Philadelphia is much higher than in South Philadelphia. Could this be the reason that students in West Philadelphia report negative experiences with the police?

The facts, according to Daniel Denvir in City Paper, show that the police do seem to spend more time giving out citations in West Philadelphia than many other neighborhoods in Philly. A great number of these citations are for small offenses like drinking in public or selling loose cigarettes. This may explain why Workshop students often do not feel comfortable around the police in their West Philadelphia neighborhoods.