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October 01, 2017

Activists hold protest at 'despicable' FOP fundraiser for suspended Philly cop

Philadelphia's Fraternal Order of Police chapter organized a benefit Sunday afternoon for a cop who fatally shot a black man in the back last June.

A group of activists who have demanded "justice for David Jones" decided to crash the party.

NBC10 reported that about a dozen protesters congregated outside the headquarters of FOP Lodge 5 in Northeast Philadelphia to protest the fundraiser for Ryan Pownall, who was suspended in early September with intent to dismiss following months of rising tensions and increasingly loud protests over his fatal shooting of Jones. 

The state Attorney General's Office is investigating the case.

Asa Khalif, a leader of Black Lives Matter in Pennsylvania, shouted via loudspeaker that Jones was loved by his friends, his family and his community.

"You shot him in the back. And he's dead. And now you have to deal with the consequences. Now you throw a party. You're celebrating killing black people," Khalif said.

John McNesby, the head of FOP Lodge 5, told Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Jenice Armstrong this week that the benefit would help Pownall and his family get through the next few months "without any money coming in."

Before the rally, Khalif called the fundraiser "despicable" in a live video on Facebook as he drove to the lodge.

"I just want to express how despicable this is, and how hurtful it is," Khalif said of the fundraiser on the video. "We ask you all who are not able to go but are listening and looking to please keep us in your prayers. We as activists put our bodies on the line. There is no guarantee that we will come home safe once we are arrested or if we are arrested and in police custody.

"It's very serious, but we are willing to do that because it has to be done. Someone has to do it."

A $40 ticket included food, beer, music and plenty of TVs showing the Eagles' late afternoon tilt with the Los Angeles Chargers, according to a Facebook page for the fundraiser.

"Come out to support one of our brothers in blue," organizers wrote.

Police said Pownall shot Jones, 30, after Pownall stopped him for illegally driving his dirt bike "in a reckless manner" in North Philadelphia. Pownall, who was driving witnesses in an unrelated matter to the Special Victims Unit when he confronted Jones, allegedly shot Jones twice in the back after an initial struggle over a gun in Jones' waistband.

"We want justice for this brother and we want justice for this family," Khalif said in the video. "We will be [at the lodge] to exercise our first amendment right of freedom of speech and to peacefully protest."