Three weeks ago I told Professor Harper that I was a bit disappointed that my group’s assigned neighborhood, South of South Street, didn’t have much edge. The streets were clean and residents friendly. The small-businesses were inviting and most people were willing to stop and chat. Even the most menacing looking dogs surprisingly lapped up any interaction from our eager group.
Last Wednesday as the pleasant weather of the week prior turned to torrential downpour, our group ascended upon our neighborhood for the final time and faced a perimeter of police officers blocking traffic. Finally, the edge I craved.
The faint sound of bagpipes in the distance signified possibly another Philadelphia Police tragedy, but in typical South of South Street fashion, rather than finding breaking news we instead found a community rallying together.
“Is there a funeral going on?” we asked. A smiling police officer directing traffic turned beaming with pride despite being covered in full rain-gear-regalia and told us the ceremony was the end of a long overdue Hero Plaque dedication.
According to an official news release from the Philadelphia Police Department, the dedication honored Philadelphia Police Officer Michael Donnelly who was shot and killed in the line of duty on April 12, 1929. The incident occurred as Officer Donnelly assisted Mr. and Mrs. Sobel pursue two armed male suspects that had just robbed Sobel Candy Store on Fourth and Carpenter Streets of $18.
Taking place at 11 AM outside of 941 South Fourth Street between Christian and Washington Avenue the dedication for Officer Donnelly, the seven-year veteran, came 80 years after the tragedy and is the 65th plaque honoring a Philadelphia Police Officer down in the line of duty.
Family, friends, officers and residents of the neighborhood who may or may not have known Officer Donnelly showed up and paid their respects honoring the young officer particularly in light of the tragedies the Philadelphia Police Department has faced of late.
Rallying together under umbrellas family and strangers alike honored the 33-year-old veteran of the force showing that even though South of South Street may not have as much “edge” as I anticipated uncovering, the neighborhood shows no boundaries when it comes to celebrating community.