No reporter can ever cover every angle of a story, even when they know them.

When I wrote a few days ago about the homeless encampment at 22nd and the Parkway,  I missed something important, something brought to me by a Facebook friend.

Homeless camp on the Parkway (Photo: Stu Bykofsky)

First, an update. As far as I know there is some jabber between the protestors and the city, but nothing much has changed, least of all the demands of Occupy PHA, which is a lead organization for the homeless.

As I indicated last week, some of the “demands” (which should be called “requests”) are reasonable.

A disgrace, the cardboard sign spits in the face of the Von Colln family and every other police officer.

Others — such as being allowed to open encampments anywhere they want — are nonstarters. Along with the “demand” that wherever they set up, no cops be allowed.

My response to that was “N-O,” and I ran a photo of their “No Cop Zone” cardboard sign.

What I didn’t realize at the time, and what was brought to my attention, was that cardboard sign covered up this sign:

Van Colln Memorial Field. So who was Van Colln?

Sergeant Frank Von Colln, 43, was assassinated in 1970 while talking on the phone in the Cobbs Creek guard house at 63rd & Catherine Sts. 

He was shot five times and killed by members of a radical black group. He had just dispatched two of his officers to investigate the wounding of another officer who had been shot by members of the same group. Two other officers were shot and wounded within the same 24-hour period. It seemed like open season on police.

Five suspects were eventually apprehended. All five were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. 

Von Colln had a son and a daughter who became police officers.

So that cardboard sign is vandalism, and worse, disrespects the sacrifice of a Philadelphia police officer.

Mayor Jim Kenney or Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw should give the order to rip it down, reclaim the Von Colln sign, and establish authority at that site. 

A disgrace, the cardboard sign spits in the face of the Von Colln family and every other police officer.

Stu Bykofsky was a columnist for decades at the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer until his retirement in 2019.

This article was originally posted by Stu Bykofsky on his website. It is reposted with his permission here.

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