City teacher charged in altercation with police at Rizzo statue protest

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A Philadelphia public school teacher has been charged in connection with an altercation with police during a protest near the controversial statue of Frank Rizzo, the city’s former mayor and police commissioner, outside the Municipal Services Building, authorities said Saturday.

John Edward Sheerin, 63, of the 6200 block of Hasbrook Avenue in the city’s Crescentville section, was arrested without incident and charged with terroristic threats and harassment for allegedly making threats of verbal violence to a Philadelphia police officer, police said.

The alleged incident occurred on Aug. 16 at the 10-foot bronze statue across from City Hall.

Sheerin is a teacher at the Julia deBurgos School in North Philadelphia, according to district payroll records.

On his Facebook page, Sheerin thanked supporters who camped out in front of the 19th Police District station.

“I really can’t believe you guys stayed out there all night. It must have been so uncomforable. But I learned something about discomfort from my first night in a cell. There’s nothing SOFT in a cell!” Sheerin wrote. He did not respond to a request for comment.

Around 11 a.m. Saturday, Asa Khalif, a leader of Black Lives Matter Pennsylvania, posted on Facebook: “Our comrade is home safe and sound. This man is a true soldier in the fight for justice. Proud to have him as a friend and ally. Thanks John Sheerin. #Salute”

District spokesman Lee Whack Jr. did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

The hulking Rizzo statue has been the target of protests and renewed calls for its removal that heated up after deadly violence erupted in Charolottesville, Va., following a clash between white nationalists and counterprotesters over the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The Rizzo statue was defaced last week with the message “Black Power” spray-painted in white. City workers power-washed the message from the statue, which has been egged in recent weeks. A mural of Rizzo in South Philadelphia was defaced with spray paint last weekend.

Councilwoman Helen Gym has said that the statue should go, and Mayor Kenney, a fellow Democrat, has said it is time to discuss its future.

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