The 17th Annual White Privilege Conference (WPC) in Philadelphia got off to an inspired start Friday morning, as the conference’s lead organizer called for members to raise money for the mother of a man who was killed after shooting a police officer.
While other conferences may be content with a single keynote speaker to open the event, this conference was more ambitious, with a series of no fewer than four different speakers on a variety of topics. The first two speakers were Jasiri X, an activist hip-hopper from Pittsburgh, and Yusef Salaam, a man who was released after spending years wrongfully imprisoned for the rape of a Central Park jogger in 1989. Both received an enthusiastic response
But the real highlight of the opening was a pair of addresses by Philadelphia-area activists. The first, a member of the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice, won cheers from the audience for his involvement in the interruption of Bill Clinton during a recent campaign visit he made on behalf of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“My colleagues and I … we are unapologetic socialists,” he said, which provoked a wave of applause.
But the audience had even more enthusiasm for Delphine Matthews, who told the story of how her son Frank McQueen was shot and killed by police in Chester, Pennsylvania.
“On June 2, 2014, my son was shot over 20 times,” she said. “They said he shot an officer. I don’t know.”
“I know my son did not shoot an officer,” she continued to an enraptured audience. “I would bet my life he did not shoot an officer.” She acknowledged that McQueen had a prior criminal record (his rap sheet was five pages long), but said he was no longer a threat to society when he was shot.
“He paid for his mistakes. He did a 360-degree turn,” Matthews said, although she didn’t say her son had actually been arrested just a couple weeks before his death for violating a restraining order.
Matthews did acknowledge the restraining order itself, though, saying that when he was shot, McQueen was at the home of the woman who had the restraining order against him. The very reason police ended up shooting McQueen was they had been called to the house after the woman reported a domestic violence incident.
“The girl had a restraining order, but from what I gather, she invited him over,” Matthews said. “And when most of you guys are in love with a girl, regardless of a restraining order, if she said ‘Come on over, let’s reconcile, let’s get things together,’ some of you guys are gonna come.”
Matthews says she was drugged upon going to the hospital, supposedly to prevent her from having a heart attack. But that drugging, she said, means she also can’t remember the events of the day her son died.
Matthews said she is still committed to pursuing justice for her son, but needs money to hire legal assistance, in part because she hired a private investigator who simply scammed her out of money.
With Matthews admitting her financial distress, the White Privilege Conference sprung into action. Moore came back to the front of the stage and announced he was giving Matthews an envelope filled with $1,000 to assist her. He encouraged others in the audience to contact Matthews to make donations, and also said that a percentage of all funds raised at the conference (which has hundreds of attendees) would go to her benefit.
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