Remove Chief Palmer

Remove Chief Palmer

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Eastern Pennsylvania Initiative for Progress started this petition to Mayor Lee Ann Gilbert

On August 1st, 2020, two opposing events were held in the Emmaus Triangle at the same time; one a Pro-Trump, Back the Blue event, and the other a Black Lives Matter protest. Almost as soon as both groups arrived, the Pro-Trump group approached the Black Lives Matter group and began shouting at them. Very conscious of the media’s skewed coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement, we, the organizers of the Black Lives Matter protest, made it clear to everyone attending that they were not to retaliate or respond in any way. Our protest was to remain completely peaceful. 


In the face of insults, threats of violence, and racist and anti-Semitic comments, our protesters stood strong and did not respond. 


The Back the Blue protesters were armed, some of them with semi-automatic rifles and wearing body armor. The Black Lives Matter protesters were outnumbered, primarily teenagers holding cardboard signs and nothing else. It was very clear the potential for intimidation was great.


At one point, a woman pulled out a knife and threatened one of our protesters repeatedly. Once the protestors diffused the situation, we approached Emmaus Police Chief Charles Palmer and asked him to call for additional officers, since he was the only one stationed in the triangle. He said “I’ll see what I can do.” No additional officers ever came. For the entirety of the event, save police vehicles briefly driving by, Chief Palmer was the only officer monitoring the event of nearly 300 people. Standing at a distance; yet still able to hear and witness armed Pro-Trump ralliers threaten and agitate unarmed protestors.


The negligence shown by Chief Palmer is unacceptable. We suspect it is because he does not support the Black Lives Matter movement. After the event, he went so far as to comment on Facebook that our account of the police presence at the event was “fake news.” The comment has since been deleted. Regardless of these reasons, he has a duty to make all citizens feel safe, and failed to do so. Due to Chief Palmer’s failure, it was left up to the organizers of our event, three teenage college students, to de-escalate a volatile situation involving heavily armed adults. When one man snatched one of our protestors' signs out of her hand and threw it in the trash, it was up to us to let him know that his behavior was unacceptable and prevent more aggression.


We organized this protest to show that Emmaus does not stand for racism and bigotry. While we still believe this to be true, it is disheartening to see first hand that the leadership of the Emmaus Police Department accepts the aggressive behavior shown on Saturday and allows it to continue unchecked. 


We are calling on Emmaus Mayor Lee Ann Gilbert to remove Chief Palmer from his position, as he has shown he does not have the best interests of the entire Emmaus community at heart. 


Who do you call when the police refuse to answer?


We thank everyone who attended or supported our protest on August 1st, and hope to continue fighting for the Emmaus community in the future.


Thank you, 


Ronald Rohlsen, Ben Lewis, and Lena Heier

Co-Founders of the Eastern Pennsylvania Initiative for Progress

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