Ignacio “Nacho” Flores, the owner of Los Taquitos de Puebla on Ninth Avenue in South Philadelphia, stood before city representatives with a microphone in hand when, a few weeks ago, as the restaurant was closing, someone said I told him that I had entered his facility and threatened him. kill him
Flores tried to calm him down, but the attack escalated. When Flores called his 911, the police didn’t seem too urgent.
The police response time also lacked urgency, according to Flores.
“It took over ten minutes for the police to arrive,” he said. “In two minutes, that man would have killed me.”
» Read more: Philadelphia police response time increased by 4 minutes, about 20% worse
The meeting where Flores spoke of him was organized by the Philadelphia Mexican Business Association, with the support of City Councilman David Orr, and was held Wednesday at the Alma Del Mar restaurant in South Philly. Mark Squiller, in addition to Sgt. Brian Mundrick and the police’s regional relations officer, Juan Ace Delgado, primarily addressed the concerns of the Latino gathering.
It was attended by restaurateurs from La Taqueria Morales, Alma del Mar, Mole Poblano, Mezcal Cantina, Los Taquitos de Puebla, Los Cuatro Soles, Philly Tacos and representatives from other businesses such as Marco’s Fish, Mercado de Latinas and Chocolate. we discussed. Concern about the escalation of violence and attacks in the region.
By July of this year, the Philadelphia Police Department reported 36 violent crimes on the 9th Avenue block, where most of the restaurants attending the conference are located.
Flores, who said it was difficult to talk about his recent experience on a public forum, said a man who entered his restaurant and threatened to kill him broke windows and other fixtures, costing him $1,500 not covered by his insurance. He said he caused more damage.
Even reporting the incident was difficult.
Flores said he was grateful to Juntos, a Latino immigrant advocacy non-profit organization in southern Philadelphia, whose director, Erika Guadalupe Nunez, offered assistance and accompanied him the day after the incident, allowing him to approach the attackers. I got a restraining order.
“I went to court with Nacho because I was sure he didn’t have an interpreter,” Nunez told the Inquirer when the meeting was over. Arrived at 8am and waited 4 and a half hours for an interpreter to arrive and something Nacho didn’t do [mention is that] The first time he called 911, they hung up on him.
According to Jasmine Riley, who was contacted by a police department spokesperson after the meeting, those manning the 911 line are civil servants, but not police officers.
Reilly said: [talk to] private dispatcher. People who are deaf or hard of hearing or who speak different languages may call us, so we call the language line to help them communicate with us. “
She acknowledged that Flores’ 911 experience was “100% inappropriate” and apologized on behalf of the police.
However, it was clear that many people who attended the meeting were as unhappy with the police activity in the area as Flores was.
“I want to know what to expect from the police,” said Felipa Ventura of La Taquería Morales. She cited Camden as a model for the type of policing she believed would be beneficial in the area.
“I have relatives there who tell me that Camden police are always on the streets. They have created trust and dialogue with residents,” Ventura said. “This is a preventative strategy.”
» Read more: Camden did not pay police. it was redone.
One attendee said a group of residents on Snyder Avenue, between 6th and 7th Avenues, had recently taken justice into their own hands and killed a man believed to have broken several area car windows. He was controversial when he said he had beaten him.
Community Relations Officer Delgado appeared surprised to learn from the speaker that the incident had been recorded on video, was visibly uncomfortable, and asked for it to be handed over to the police for investigation.
“I know migrants are unfairly affected by violence because of hateful behavior, but the police are not working,” Nunez said after the meeting.
She added that most of the cases Juntos sees are people who have been beaten or robbed and are seeking help from advocacy groups. No interpreters, hotline operators. [has] hung up on them.
“Communicating with the police is very difficult. We have experienced this,” she added.
For Nunez, increasing violence in the community is one of many symptoms of poverty and a devastating effect of the pandemic. “The solution is probably to redirect some. [police] Funds for prevention programs,” she said. She further wondered, “Why aren’t there even enough interpreters?” despite the increased budget. …What’s the problem [police] are you going to reassure me?
» Read more: How Philadelphia spends nearly $1 billion on policing and violence prevention
As the meeting drew to a close, officials offered some solutions but made some promises.
Squilla, who belongs to a district that includes the Mexican Business Corridor in southern Philadelphia, said he plans to ask police to include him in his weekly surveillance rotation.
Oh offered to find out if there were ways insurance companies could do a better job of covering losses from accidents like the one Flores experienced.
He also suggested that increasing lighting in the area could play an important role in increasing the community’s perception of safety and security.
The latter resonated with Flores.
“The last thing we want is customers not coming,” he said. “We want our customers to visit our local restaurants to support our communities and respond in solidarity when faced with crime.”