Ignacio “Nacho” Flores, owner of Los Taquitos de Puebla on Ninth Street in South Philadelphia, stood in front of city officials with a microphone in hand, describing how a man had broken into the establishment a few weeks ago and was closing the restaurant. Kill him.
Flores tried to calm him down, but the attack escalated. When Flores called 911, the police didn’t have the same urgency — instead, the operator started asking him if he had Covid-19.
Flores said the police response time was not immediate.
“It took more than 10 minutes for the police to arrive,” he said. “In two minutes that man was going to kill me.”
» Read more: Philadelphia police response times 4 minutes longer, 20% worse
The meeting where Flores told his story was held at the Alma Del Mar restaurant in South Philly on Wednesday, sponsored by the Philadelphia Mexican Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by City Councilman David Oh. In addition to Oh, Councilman Mark Squilla, Sgt. Brian Mundrick and Juan Ace Delgado, police community relations officers, responded to concerns about the predominantly Latino gathering.
Restaurateurs from La Taqueria Morales, Alma del Mar, Mole Poblano, Mezcal Cantina, Los Taquitos de Puebla, Los Cuatro Soles and Philly Tacos along with representatives of other businesses, including Marco Fish, Mercado de Latinas and Chocolat, are concerned about violence and violence in the area.
Philadelphia police reports show that through July this year, there were 36 violent crimes on the blocks of 9th Street, most of which were restaurants represented at the meeting.
Flores, who says it’s difficult to talk about his recent experience in public, said the man who entered the restaurant and threatened to kill him broke windows and other items, causing more than $1,500 in damage that was not covered by his insurance. .
Even reporting the incident was too much.
Erica Guadalupe Nunez, director of Flores Juntos, a South Philly Latino immigrant advocacy charity, said she would accompany him the day after the incident to seek a restraining order against the attacker.
“I went to court with Nacho because I was sure he wouldn’t have an interpreter,” Nunez told the researcher after the meeting. “And I was right. We arrived at 8 o’clock and waited 4½ hours for the interpreter to come. And what Nacho didn’t do. [mention is that] The first time he called 911, they hung up on him – because he didn’t speak the language very well.
Jasmine Reilly, spokeswoman for the police department, said after the meeting that 911 operators are public officials but not police officers.
“9.9 out of 10 times when someone calls 911, they say they go,” Reilly said. [talk to] A civilian shipper. “Sometimes people who are deaf or hard of hearing or people who speak different languages call, so we call it a language line to help them communicate with us.”
Flores admitted that the incident with 911 was “100% inappropriate” and apologized on behalf of the police.
But it was clear at the meeting that many, like Flores, were not satisfied with the local police.
“We want to know what to expect from the police,” said Felipa Ventura from La Taquería Morales. She cited Camden as an example of the type of policing she believes would benefit the area.
“I have relatives there and they tell me that Camden police walk the streets constantly, and they’ve built a relationship of trust and communication with the residents,” Ventura said. “This is a defense mechanism.”
» Read more: Camden doesn’t return police money It started again.
Residents on Snyder Street between Sixth and Seventh streets recently took justice into their own hands, smashing the windows of several area cars and beating someone they believed in, one of the attendees said.
Delgado, the community relations chief, seemed surprised — and apparently uncomfortable — to learn from the speaker that the incident had been caught on video, and asked to be handed over to the police for an investigation.
“We know that immigrants are disproportionately affected by violence because there are acts of hate, but the police are not working,” Nunez said after the meeting.
She added that most of the cases Juntos sees are those who are beaten or robbed and turn to advocacy organizations for help “because they know the police won’t help them; there are no interpreters, and a hotline operator.” [has] He hung up on them.
“Communicating with the police is very difficult. We have experienced this,” she added.
For Núñez, the growing violence in society is one of the many symptoms of poverty, as well as a devastating effect of the epidemic. “The solution is probably redirecting some of them. [police] Money for prevention programs,” she said. She also wondered why despite the increased budget, “it’s not even enough for translators.” … What is the question? [police] To make me feel safe?”
» Read more: How Philly will spend nearly a billion dollars on police and crime prevention
As the meeting drew to a close, government officials offered few solutions but two promises:
Squilla, which includes the Mexican trade corridor in South Philadelphia, said he plans to ask police to include it in their weekly patrol rotation.
Oh, he offered to find out if there’s a way insurance companies can do a better job of covering losses in cases like Flores.
He pointed out that increasing the light in the area can play an important role in increasing safety and awareness of safety in the community.
The latter resonated with Flores.
“We really want our customers to stop coming,” he said. “We want our customers to visit our local restaurants and give back by working together to support the community and fight crime.”