I rarely get notice of press conferences but today was an exception. I was available and traveled out to the Ridley Township municipal building to catch what I thought was going to be a boring run-of-the-mill press conference. Boy, was I wrong.
About a dozen speakers took the mic and brought passion, quotes, demands, accusations, disgust, hope, and calls for actions in front of about 75 masked and social-distanced supporters and observers.
The event was sponsored by the Delaware County Black Caucus led by State Senator Anthony Williams who served as host. He opened the event firing off a collection of the racially charged words and actions exhibited at last week’s Black Lives Matter march through town and closed the event with a rousing call to action and insistence that changes will be made in Ridley and they’re not going away until it’s done.
Chester’s Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland’s comments summed up the press conference with his story about his grandchildren and the lesson he gave them when hurtful words were spoken between the kids. In my words, not his, Mayor Kirkland told the crowd there’s no such thing as consequence free actions. If you choose to take certain actions, you have to take personal responsibility for your place and position in society or in the community. Several other speakers shared that sentiment and called for the resignation of certain folks caught on video and who wrote Facebook posts and emails with hurtful, harmful rhetoric.
The other thing Kirkland stressed made me chuckle because I had just had the same conversation with someone earlier this morning on the fact that I’m getting too old to be marching in the streets and may be a bit too short-fused to put up with certain things. Yet, we recognize how important it is to support the young people taking a stand with whatever we have to give. They have the energy, passion, good legs, knees and back. We have the experience, advice, and guidance to keep them encouraged and focused. Working together, we can accomplish what we set out to accomplish.
There were calls for resignations, investigations, and corrections to the record. Interestingly, there was no local police presence at the press conference held besides the police station. The Delaware County Sheriff Department came down from Media with the sheriff and a few of his deputies, but that was it. None of the locals defending the Ridley VFW made themselves known if they were in the crowd.
Needless to say, the press conference was charged and probably a lot more rally than press conference, but the TV and print media were there to get the story. I’m looking forward to seeing how they frame the event.