“No, this is Afghanistan.”

99 murders so far this year, so the cops must be very busy trying to fight violent crime, right? As I’ve noted here before, response time to a 911 call can take as long as 3-4 hours. My goodness, then what would be so terrible as to warrant an immediate police response?


Jill Porter’s column, A night in jail, for a song, is a must read. At first it seems a simple overreaction, a young man from a local band is singing in Rittenhouse Square, under the impression that the noise curfew is 10:00 PM. After all, his band played in the park last summer until 4:00 AM without incident. This time he ended up spending the night in jail. The disturbing part is how the arresting officer Greg Wilkinson and the department handled the situation.

According to the singer, Anthony Riley, and a witness, Officer Wilkinson approached Riley just after 9 and told him to “shut up.” Riley asked about the 10:00 curfew and what the law was.

Wilkinson: I am the law here.
Riley: Isn’t this America?
Wilkinson: No, this is Afghanistan.

Officer Wilkinson threatened to arrest him, and Riley obliged by holding out his hands. After cuffing him, apparently Officer “I am the law here” felt a little unsafe with the alleged crowd and called for backup, because those crowds in Rittenhouse Square are so out of control and threatening.

If his duty was to maintain quiet, he certainly failed on that account as his backup arrived immediately, sirens squealing into the park. Riley was charged with disorderly conduct, then the police department lied and claimed he was released by 4:00 AM . In reality, he spent 18 hours in jail and was released closer to 4:00 PM.

The police department claims Officer Wilkinson “acted properly.”

This is acting properly? Responding full force to a guy singing in Rittenhouse Square while taking hours to respond to 911 calls is acting properly? Refusing to tell a citizen the law he’s being arrested under is acting properly? Referring to American as Afghanistan is acting properly?

4 Comments so far

  1. Marisa (unregistered) on March 30th, 2007 @ 11:43 am

    Wow. That seems so insane to me.

  2. Jeff (unregistered) on March 31st, 2007 @ 2:52 am

    ahh… what else to say but- its philadelphia!

  3. Jeff (unregistered) on March 31st, 2007 @ 2:53 am

    i’ll elaborate on that in a post soon! i swear :-X its just taking longer than i thought to hash it all out.

  4. albert (unregistered) on April 2nd, 2007 @ 2:15 am

    if you want to know more about the singer arrested, anthony riley, he was the subject of a short film by two Penn students which recently won best documentary at the greater philadelphia student film festival.

    the short is going to be screened at the philadelphia film festival with the king of kong.

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