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On MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning, Gov. Ed Rendell claimed Philadelphia police would have responded to a Ferguson, MO-style protest better than the way the police forces there have handled it.

Speaking about his time as Philadelphia mayor, Rendell noted the city’s Civil Affairs Unit, as well as police clergy members, would have stressed a peaceful protest and kept police in line, rather than the current situation happening right now in Ferguson. Rendell was rebutted later on in the broadcast by Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, who has claimed many protesters in the town are there to rile up the police and cause violence—not to peacefully demonstrate for this particular cause.

The transcript below comes from Talking Points Memo, as video is not available for embedding at the time of this post.

“In Philadelphia, we have something called a civil affairs unit. We had it way before I was mayor,” Rendell said. “And the civil affairs people go out into the community. They often bring the police clergy with them. We have 78 clergy members who signed up to help the police and they preach at the very beginning, they preach restraint and they say peaceful demonstrations and they say let’s work this out together. Obviously, nothing was in place in Ferguson. They had no protocols for dealing with this. So they are playing catch-up.”

McCaskill, later on:

“I have an opportunity now to say that Ed Rendell is wrong, and I don’t get that opportunity often enough,” McCaskill said. “Ed Rendell is wrong about one thing. I was in church in Ferguson on Sunday and every church in Ferguson was packed. There wasn’t a lot of cameras at all these different churches. … We’ve got everybody engaged on the ground trying to reach out to young people. I’m meeting with a group of young people again tomorrow. There is all kinds of things going on on the ground and it is not getting the coverage it deserves.”

Protests erupted in Ferguson, MO last week after local police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. Since then, police have refused to release their report or any investigation into the murder, and Wilson has not been charged with anything (although police claimed Brown was wanted in connection with a petty shoplifting, which had nothing to do with why he was stopped in the first place). The police response to the protests has been aggressive, to say the least, often horrific. The protests and response have become nationwide news fodder and erupted a new debate on race and militarized police forces. Oddly, both Rendell and McCaskill failed to note the Philadelphia Police Department has its own controversial history with violence.

About The Author

Staff writer

Randy LoBasso is the winner of the Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association's 2014 Distinguished Writing Award for his news and politics coverage at Philadelphia Weekly. He has also contributed to Alt Ledes, Salon, The Guardian and PennLive.

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