The peaceful protests taking place for weeks now, across the United States, have been marred by law enforcement’s continued practice of brutalizing citizens. A microcosm case of such illegal treatment of Americans was filmed on June 1, in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was here that 21-year-old Temple University student Evan Gorski was hit in the head with a baton by Police Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna. Gorski was held for two days in jail before being released, not charged, with proof that it was Bologna who assaulted the unarmed student and not the other way around.
On Monday, Bologna surrendered to authorities, facing charges of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and possession of an instrument of crime. This comes a week after the incident in question, and after the video of Bologna’s assault on protesters went viral. It took about 48 hours to drop charges and release Evan Gorski from imprisonment, and it took Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and others four days before they took Bologna “off the street,” saying they would be conducting a “more thorough and methodical Internal Affairs investigation with results that might not be known for some time.” District Attorney Larry Krasner decided to go with the clear evidence at hand, trumping Commissioner Outlaw’s announcement by telling the press he planned to charge Bologna.
Early Monday, Bologna left from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 to turn himself in. A crowd of Philadelphia police and residents came out to watch. A lot of police cheered Bologna.
BREAKING: @PhillyPolice Staff Inspector Joe Bologna,54,leaves @FOPLodge5 to turn himself in on felony charges for violent protest confrontation last week that severely injured @TempleUniv student,21, when hit on head with police baton @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/VsJSYSseHY
— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) June 8, 2020
To quote criminal defense attorney David Menschel, on Twitter, “When a cop who violently beats the people he ostensibly serves is greeted by the cheers of fellow cops, it’s pretty strong evidence that the whole fucking barrel of apples is spoiled.”
John McNesby, the head of Philadelphia’s police union has said he is “disgusted” by the charges against Bologna. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that as video of Bologna’s assault on Gorski made its way around the internet, more people began releasing videos purporting to show Gorski in the days before, and after, the incident, both lunging at a reporter as well as throwing his bike and tackling “a woman who had apparently tapped its tire.”
People are under a lot of pressure right now. Jobs have different stress points. But law enforcement cannot become more dangerous when stress levels are increased. That is the opposite of what we demand of our law enforcement. Regardless of what happens here, whether or not any real punitive consequences come officer Bologna’s way or not, the financial costs to the city of Philadelphia will be high.
Gorski will have a very clear case against the city. A young man, beaten by law enforcement, wrongfully imprisoned, and falsely charged. There are calls across the country to defund law enforcement organizations. As we go into a deeper and deeper economic depression—in part the result of our country’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic—municipalities will be looking to make budget cuts as deficits will run high. We already know that politicians love to take money away from teachers and public schools, while frequently increasing the military-style forces of law enforcement. Maybe now will be a time to budget with smarter math in mind.