Joseph A. Slobodzian
The Philadelphia Inquirer
December 13, 2008
Philadelphia judge yesterday ordered prosecutors to disclose the identities of two police undercover officers involved in an altercation last year with antiracism activists who thought the officers were skinheads attending a Ku Klux Klan rally.
Municipal Court Judge Marsha H. Neifield said she was concerned with the safety of undercover police officers in the scuffle at Center City’s Love Park. But the judge said she was also offended that police did not even anonymously mention the presence of the two officers in reports filed after four antiracism activists were arrested.
Without that information, which she said was mandatory to disclose, it was impossible for defense attorneys to argue that the officers – and not the activists – precipitated the July 23, 2007, altercation.
The judge set another hearing for Jan. 26 to give the District Attorney’s Office time to decide whether to appeal the order to Common Pleas Court.
The four antiracism activists – Jared Schultz, 29, and Thomas Keenan, 23, both of Frankford; Jason Robbins, 29, of West Philadelphia; and James McGovern Jr., 59, of Paulsboro – were arrested after they followed the officers, whom they believed were neo-Nazi skinheads, to a waiting SUV, kicked at the vehicle’s sides and broke a rear window.