Thousands attend pro-police rally, sign petition

The rally was scheduled after members of Black Lives Matter showed up outside the Bustleton home of officer Ryan Pownall, who fatally shot an armed suspect in Feltonville.

Showing their support: On Aug. 31, a “Back the Blue” rally was held at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, 11630 Caroline Road. Many attendees signed a petition urging Gov. Tom Wolf to sign House Bill 27, which would delay releasing the names of officers involved in shootings.

Several thousand people last week attended a “Back the Blue” rally at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, 11630 Caroline Road.

The Aug. 31 rally was scheduled after a police officer was allegedly threatened while guarding the Frank Rizzo statue and members of Black Lives Matter showed up outside the Bustleton home of officer Ryan Pownall, who fatally shot an armed suspect after a physical struggle in Feltonville.

John McNesby senses that people are “fed up” by the antics of anti-police activists and likened the Black Lives Matter members who showed up outside Pownall’s house to “a pack of rabid animals.”

Pownall and his wife were at the rally and signed a petition urging Gov. Tom Wolf to sign House Bill 27, which would delay releasing the names of officers involved in shootings until 30 days have passed, or until the investigation is concluded, whichever is completed sooner. House Bill 27 has passed the House and awaits action in the Senate. The same legislation was passed by both the House and Senate in 2016, but vetoed by Wolf.

Black Lives Matter has threatened to return to Pownall’s house, but McNesby said the group’s first visit “crossed the line.”

“As long as I’m president of the FOP, that will never happen again at his house,” he said. “Mark my words. Not one protester outside. Not one.”

City Councilman Brian O’Neill, whose father was a police officer, called the Black Lives Matter protest outside Pownall’s house “a stain on the city of Philadelphia.”

State Rep. Martina White, sponsor of House Bill 27, credited McNesby and the rest of the FOP for drawing such a big crowd with less than a week’s notice. White added that she and her staff gathered more than 1,000 petitions in favor of the bill becoming law at the rally.

White and O’Neill were among a group of elected officials and candidates at the rally. Others included state Sen. John Sabatina Jr.; City Councilmen Bobby Henon, Al Taubenberger and Mark Squilla; state Reps. Mike Driscoll, Kevin Boyle and Ed Neilson; Common Pleas Court Judge Vince Furlong; Beth Grossman, the Republican candidate for district attorney; and Mike Tomlinson, the Republican candidate for city controller.

“The people in blue should be protected, like they protect us,” Sabatina said.

Neilson praised veteran Houston police Sgt. Steve Perez, who drowned in his vehicle while driving to work during Hurricane Harvey. The lawmaker added that times have changed, and not for the better, when most or all people would say, “Yes, officer,” or “No, officer,” when speaking with a cop.

Taubenberger, whose oldest son, Matt, is a Pennsylvania state trooper, was among a bunch of elected officials noting the dangers of police work.

“Every night, I say a prayer for him,” he said. ••