PHILADELPHIA, October 27, 2020 – Today, Councilmember Derek Green (At-Large) issued a statement following news of Monday’s fatal police-involved shooting of a 27-year-old man at South 61st and Locust Streets in West Philadelphia:
I was saddened and horrified to learn of the tragic incident that happened involving police officers in West Philadelphia last evening. I offer my sincerest sympathies and prayers to the family and loved ones of Mr. Walter Wallace, Jr. during this difficult time. Although I cannot begin to imagine the pain they are feeling, I can empathize with the anguish and hurt as the father of a black, autistic son. It is an absolutely inconceivable, but an unfortunate and far too common, nightmarish reality for African American parents in this country.
As we continue to witness the racial reckoning sweeping the nation, specifically with regard to police brutality and the dismantling of systemic racism within our institutions, this tragedy just further underscores the urgent need to protect and invest in mental health resources like never before.
As Chair of the Council Committee on People with Disabilities and Special Needs, I led a hearing this past week that focused on what potentially devastating state mental health cuts would mean for the citizens of Philadelphia, an existing concern further punctuated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the approximately $5 billion deficit Pennsylvania is facing by the end of June 2021. This heartbreaking event speaks to the essence of what investing in mental health programs means, especially for people of color in our most under-served communities. It literally means life or death in many situations.
I mourn with the Wallace family in their time of loss. I look forward to the day when this is no longer a common, desensitizing occurrence and there is better education and understanding in teaching others about the complexities of neurodiversity and mental health.