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  • Robert Farago

Mamma Mia That's a Felonious Meatball!

Law enforcement is not the answer to looting

Last Tuesday, Dayjia Blackwell – Instagram handle “Meatball” – posted a video of a mob pillaging Apple, Foot Locker and Lululemon. “Free iPhones! Free iPhones!” she screamed. “Got one! Got one! Uh-huh!” Like this…

The Philadelphia police were not amused. They apprehended Ms. Blackwell.

She was charged with six felonies and two misdemeanors: burglary, criminal trespassing, criminal mischief, conspiracy, riot with the intent to commit a felony and criminal use of a communication facility.

After posting $25k bail, Ms. Blackwell is out and about. She’s yet to make a public statement or post on her arrest in her main Insta account.

During her video (screen cap above), Ms. Blackwell offered the following rationale for the looters’ actions:

“This is what happens when we don’t get justice in this city” and “Tell the police they’re either gonna lock me up tonight, or it’s gonna get lit, it’s gonna be a movie.” reveals the injustice enervating Ms. Blackwell:

Thousands of people took to the streets Tuesday afternoon to protest Municipal Judge Wendy Pew’s decision to dismiss all charges, including murder and manslaughter, against police officer Mark Dial, who fatally shot Irizarry through a car window during an August traffic stop.

The officer’s defense: his partner yelled “gun” as Deal sprinted up to Mr. Irizarry (heard on the video).

A tragic mistake? According to

The officers pulled Irizarry over on a residential street after a short pursuit prompted by erratic driving. Police body camera footage shown at the preliminary hearing of fired Officer Mark Dial showed Irizarry holding a knife near his right leg as police approached his stopped vehicle.

It should be said that the looting occurred after a peaceful protest, based on the protester’s belief that the police are racist murderers.

In this opinion they are not alone. Large segments of America’s African American community are possessed by an idee fixe: any white cop who shoots a black man is a racist. Proving that all white cops are racists.

Does racism/injustice justify looting? What does looting accomplish in terms of combatting racism? If anything, it makes it more likely.

A relatively small percentage of the African American community participates in this perfidy, but what we’re hearing – and not hearing – in the looting’s aftermath is worrying.

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney strongly condemned the mob: "This is not shoplifting. This is looting. This is riot.” Does that mean shoplifting is somehow OK?

Senator John Fetterman – he of the dress code kerfuffle – has said nothing. Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro? Also shtum.

While racism – real or imagined – may embolden “affirmative shopping,” the real question: how did so many people in this community get so disconnected from lawful society?

Philadelphia Public Schools have an average math proficiency score of 26 percent, and a reading proficiency score of 31 percent. The school system is failing to graduate people with a viable future in the mid to upper echelons of our economic system.

In 2011, some seventy percent of black babies were born to unmarried mothers; African Americans are growing up without a live-in male role model to communicate the advantages of a quality education, gainful employment and a stable family structure.

When your job prospects are bleak, when you live in a consumer society dangling goods and services you can’t afford, when gangs are the most attractive “employer,” the temptation to take what you can get when you can get it is high. Especially when there are no negative social or legal consequences.

That’s not an excuse. It’s an explanation.

One thing is for sure: more and tougher law enforcement isn’t a cure. It’s a bandaid. An important bandaid for the community’s economic survival, but one that won’t “solve” the problem.

Until and unless the underlying educational and economic factors giving rise to looting – and shoplifting – are addressed, this blight will continue.

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