Changes Made to Puerto Rican Day Parade a Year After Caught on Camera Punch

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Changes are in store for today's Puerto Rican Day Parade on the Parkway. They were made after a Philadelphia Police Lieutenant was caught on camera last year, striking a woman in the face during an event that took place after the parade.

    “The biggest difference is that there are coordinated events,” said Joanna-Otero Cruz, the executive director of Concilio, the organization that sponsors the parade.

    Cruz says her group, city officials as well as police have been working since last November on ways to organize a series of family events that would take place directly after the parade.

    “ a really positive venue for them,” said Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez. “Where they feel safe and they have an alternative other than just caravanning in the street.”

    In previous years, police would lock up several parade-goers for disorderly conduct once everyone spilled out into the streets. This year, however, city officials say they will do everything they can to make sure there are no post-parade problems.

    “This is the first time its being done,” Cruz said.

    This year’s post-parade celebrations will include an evening concert at the Dell and a free movie in Fair Hill Park.

    “We are encouraging people to come out and celebrate,” Cruz said. “And really just learn about our culture.”

    The parade will kick off at noon today along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

    September 30 marks exactly one year since Lieutenant Jonathan Josey struck Aida Guzman at the Festival de la Americas on 5th and Lehigh Streets in North Philadelphia.

    The next day, cell phone video surfaced showing Lt. Josey hitting Guzman.

    Officials say Guzman, of Chester, Pa., was spraying silly string at officers involved in a traffic stop when she was hit by Josey. Her face was bleeding as officers took her away. Guzman was cited for disorderly conduct but the charge was subsequently dropped.

    Josey, a 19-year veteran of the force and decorated supervisor with the Highway Patrol, was suspended and then fired after the video surfaced, though the Fraternal Order of Police continued to support and defend the lieutenant.

    A bench trial was held for Josey in which a judge found him not guilty. Municipal Judge Patrick Dugan claimed the video "didn't tell the whole story."

    Josey testified he thought Guzman had thrown beer on him. He claimed he told her to put down the bottle and then swung in an attempt to knock it from her. Guzman claimed she didn’t throw any liquid, though she did admit to shooting aerosol string into the crowd.

    Last month, Philadelphia Police confirmed that Josey got his job back. The not-guilty verdict and reinstatement sparked outrage throughout the Philadelphia community. As the one year anniversary of the incident approaches, residents say their anger has shifted to a desire to improve this year’s parade.

    In previous years, police would lock up several parade-goers for disorderly conduct once everyone spilled out into the streets. This year, however, city officials say they will do everything they can to make sure there are no post-parade problems.

    As for Guzman, she says she isn’t sure if she’ll attend this year’s parade.