Last week’s Back the Blue rally brought hundreds of people into Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5’s ballroom, with many more supporters in the lobby, bar and outside.
FOP president John McNesby thanked the “very few” elected officials who were in attendance. They included City Councilmen Bobby Henon and David Oh, state Sen. John Sabatina Jr. and state Reps. Martina White, Ed Neilson and Mike Driscoll.
Also on hand were Republican state legislative candidates John Nungesser, Aaron Bashir and Drew Murray.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw delivered very brief remarks, and some in the crowd booed her appearance.
White led the crowd in a chant of, “Back the Blue.”
“The calls for defunding the police should be rebuffed, not embraced,” she said.
Henon said, “I will never, ever be a part of any movement that tries to defund our police department.”
Three members of the Philadelphia Police Explorers were in attendance. One of them, Nicholas Scaramucci, presented a memorial he and his dad made for the family of SWAT Sgt. James O’Connor, shot to death in March as he was issuing an arrest warrant for an accused murderer in Frankford.
“We back the blue,” said Scaramucci, a sergeant with the Explorers.
Terri O’Connor, the sergeant’s widow, told the crowd he was taken away shortly before the two were to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary by a “criminal who should have never been on the streets.”
“Please never forget Jim, 8162,” she said, referencing his badge number.
Hassan Elliott has been arrested for the murder, which took place at 1688 Bridge St. Elliott was wanted for a 2019 murder.
U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain has said that District Attorney Larry Krasner’s “decarceration” policies let Elliott, with prior arrests and parole violations, on the street, leading to O’Connor’s killing.
“I will try to make our district attorney’s life miserable,” Terri O’Connor said, as the crowd rose to give her a standing ovation.
O’Connor praised her husband’s coworkers.
“The SWAT unit will always hold an extra-special place in my heart,” she said.
The coronavirus pandemic prevented the family from holding a funeral for eight weeks.
Even then, attendance at the Mass was kept at a minimum. Meanwhile, O’Connor noted, unlimited numbers of protesters have been given permits to march through the city.
“What has happened in our city disgusts me,” she said.
James O’Connor was remembered in North Wildwood with a bench dedicated in his memory at 17th and the Boardwalk.
“It’s pretty pathetic that the mayor from the small town of North Wildwood, where we spend about six weeks of summer, has given our hero more recognition than our own mayor,” Terri O’Connor said. ••