Wednesday, May 05, 2004


... maybe I was a little quick to praise SEPTA's "rent-a-cops" for an increased presense on the El yesterday. At least after last night's report on "The Propaganda Machine Known as 6-ABC".

Action News reported on it's 11:00pm edition last night of a major incident last month on the Broad Street Line at Spring Garden. The incident was reported as part of a "sweeps week" story entitiled "Mean Girls". The girls involved are students at a highly controversial alternative school under the jurisdiction of the School District of Philadelphia.

On April 23rd ... girls from the Community Education Partners school in Hunting Park, or CEP, traveled to a SEPTA subway stop at Broad and Spring Garden apparently looking for a fight. Students from the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School ... say there were targeted. WPVI-TV

In an accompanying video that also aired last night, a CEP student is seen wrapping a belt around her hand and preparing to use the buckle as a weapon. The incident occured as a train was pulling out of Spring Garden station.

"People's lives were in danger. Not only ours but the other passengers in the subway." (Victim whose identity was withheld)

[In the video] you can see a train pull out of the station.

"Yo, yo, yo! Watchout, watchout!" (From the video)

Anyone could have fallen onto the tracks and come in contact with the 3rd rail.

"That can be fatal." (Victim)

And now, as you can expect, SEPTA's Minister of Mis-information Richard Maloney attempted to pass the buck, as he's obscenely paid to do in embarassing situations like this...

SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney believes this was a dangerous situation, but he doesn't agree with the criticism aimed at his agency from the charter school.

"SEPTA police should have been down there. They were not down there to help us." (Victim)

"We don't have the manpower or the facilities to devote sufficient officers at one station at one time every day. Just can't do it." (Maloney)

Excuse me while I vent...


We're not talking about staffing officers at every single station 24/7, which even I know is impossible. We're talking about assigning "rent-a-cops" to Broad and Spring Garden during peak student travel times. And don't offer that bullshit about not being able to devote "sufficient officers at one station at one time every day" as you so idiotically put it. SEPTA can certainly blanket the Frankford side of the El with a small batallion of "rent-a-cops", and you sure as hell have enough "rent-a-cops" hanging around 69 St Terminal and the 15 St El Station during rush hours. And, let's not forget the 3-4 "rent-a-cops" always deployed after major sporting events at Pattison Station. So don't give us that bullshit about staffing issues...


A SEPTA officer was called away from the station before the altercation. It was broken up by security staff from the Mathematics, Civics and Science Charter School. WPVI-TV

One officer? Wow, that budget crisis must really be affecting public safety.

"I will send the message to SEPTA, that if they don't do something we will shutdown the Broad Street Line to get our point across." (Veronica Joyner, Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School)

The Philadelphia School District says it's responsible for student safety throughout the city, but was not aware of the tension.

"With these two particular schools and the incident you saw, no one has brought it to our attention that it has been an ongoing thing." (Dexter Green, Chief Safety Executive, School District of Philadelphia)

And it isn't the first time students from this school have been involved in major incidents on SEPTA...

But charter school Chief Administrator Veronica Joyner says she has been complaining to school district officials
about CEP girls attacking her students for a few months. Joyners' allegations about CEP girls were detailed in a news report in February.

Those incidents, reported by CBS 3's Walt Hunter and by Gloria Campisi and Jim Nolan of the Daily News, were reported at "Frankford Terminal" on February 19.

While some may be surprised by the behavior caught on tape because it involved girls, CEP Principal Ronald Cage says girls are just more aggressive today.

"(Is this why these girls are doing things that girls when we were young would never do?) I think it has a lot to do with it. They're doing the same thing the boys do. Boys go out and fight. Girls go out and fight." (Ronald Cage, Principal, CEP)

Cage admits his students should not have been at the subway stop and those CEP girls in the video have been disciplined.

Among some of the strange ironies...

In February, Hunter on CBS 3 reported that SEPTA "formed a special detail to keep watch during the after school hours." How's that for a lie, eh?

The Spring Garden station is not only located near the affected charter school (Buttonwood is one block south of Spring Garden), but also to Ben Franklin High School, the main campus of the Community College of Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania State Office Center (where most state agencies have their Philadelphia regional offices). And SEPTA can not - or will not - provide adequate security during the periods immediately after school has let out to prevent similar incidents?

If SEPTA can't - or won't - dispatch it's "rent-a-cops" to Spring Garden during this period, why not let the Phiadelphia Police handle security there? Or even better, bring in the state troopers assigned to the state office center. I guarantee you that those punks won't be starting any more trouble if they see the State Police get involved...

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