12/9/01 Ceremony dedicating a plaque in the memory of Daniel Faulkner
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Ceremony remembers Faulkner
Honors for the slain officer included a plaque at the site of his killing and scholarships awarded in his name.
By Kathleen Brady Shea
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Twenty years ago, Maureen Faulkner learned that her husband of one year had been fatally shot and that Mumia Abu-Jamal had been charged with his murder.
Yesterday, Faulkner watched with hundreds of supporters as a bagpiper played "Danny Boy" and a commemorative plaque was unveiled in the sidewalk at 13th and Locust Streets, where the 25-year-old Philadelphia police officer was slain on Dec. 9, 1981.
The hour-long tribute to Daniel J. Faulkner, which included the awarding of two scholarships in his memory, was followed by a memorial Mass at St. Barnabas Catholic Church in Southwest Philadelphia.
Maureen Faulkner said the most difficult part of yesterday's events was returning to the church where she had attended her husband's funeral.
"After the funeral, I just couldn't come back," said Faulkner, who lives in California. "It was so hard to see a lot of Danny's friends after so long. Our lives were changed forever. I looked around and wondered: When are we going to be able to live a normal life?"
During the plaque dedication ceremony, speakers praised Maureen Faulkner's perseverance.
"I was reminded of the country song 'Stand By Your Man,' " said Philadelphia Police Inspector Frank Pryor. "Here's a woman standing up for justice after 20 years. What more could you ask for?"
Philadelphia Police Inspector James Tiano agreed. He said he watched a television interview with Maureen Faulkner that brought tears to his eyes.
"After two decades, she's still speaking for him because he's not here to speak for himself. Now that's a love story," Tiano said.
Not all of the praise came from police officers.
Steve Fleisher, 47, of Philadelphia, said he grew up in a crime-ridden North Philadelphia neighborhood where he often ran with gangs.
"When I needed to go to the hospital, it was the police who took me, not gang members," said Fleisher, a volunteer with the Police Athletic League who showed up with a large bouquet of red roses for Maureen Faulkner.
"It's about fairness. For people to come in and second-guess the conviction years after the fact just isn't right," said Fleisher, referring to supporters of Abu-Jamal. "We have to show these agitators who the real heroes are."
At a rally Saturday, seven supporters of Abu-Jamal were arrested during a clash with police.
"You can't help but compare this highly emotional, very peaceful program with the knuckleheads on the other side," Police Commissioner John Timoney said.
Maureen Faulkner said the Abu-Jamal supporters had made it difficult for her and her family to achieve closure.
"Thanks to the never-ending appeal system, we continue to have emotional stress and heartache," she said. "Whenever they have protests, they have to bus people in from outside. The people of Philadelphia know what happened. They've always been supportive."
"It's nice that Danny is remembered," said Gary Bell, his former partner. "It was a beautiful service, and it's refreshing that so many people turned out, not just at the dedication but also at the church."
Yesterday's tribute evolved from a conversation between James J. Binns, who owns the Globar restaurant at 13th and Locust, and Philadelphia Police Sgt. Michael Walton, Binns said.
"You know [the murder] happened right there," Binns recalled Walton telling him, pointing outside the restaurant.
"I knew then that we needed to do something," Binns said, adding that crime-scene photographs ensured that the location of the 15-by-18-inch plaque was exact. "We put it right where the blood was."
Charles Ritterson, 17, of Northeast Philadelphia, and Dana Dutch, 20, of Port Richmond, received $5,000 scholarships from Justice for Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, a nonprofit organization established in 1998.
Ritterson and Dutch were selected because each lost a parent in February 2000. William Dutch, 46, and Gertrude Ritterson, 42, were shot execution-style during a robbery at the Dollar Express store in Northeast Philadelphia.
"Words can't express how I feel," Ritterson said. "Knowing what Daniel Faulkner stood for makes this very special. He's a hero."
Dutch said she felt an immediate connection to Maureen Faulkner.
"I know how it feels when you lose someone," Dutch said, crying. "I know what she's going through. I'm very honored to be here."
Story link in the Daily News
Murdered cop Faulkner honored
Plaque notes his death 20 years ago
Maureen Faulkner holds flowers to place on memorial plaque for her husband, Danny Faulkner, who was murdered 20 years ago
By DANA DiFILIPPO
The radio call is as fresh in Garry Bell's mind today as it was when it crackled over the airwaves 20 years ago.
Police officer shot. 13th and Locust.
Bell knew without being told the target was his partner, Danny Faulkner, who had called for a police wagon to cart a wrong-way driver.
"I ran down 13th Street, my ear glued to the radio, and went right to Jefferson [University Hospital]," said Bell, who had been on foot patrol a few blocks away. "When I got there, the doctors were working on him, but he was already dead. I can still see the picture of him in my mind today, with all the blood on his face. That's indelible."
While two decades have passed since the Dec. 9, 1981, murder, Bell's heartache hasn't faded.
Yesterday, he returned to the scene where Faulkner was shot to dedicate a memorial marking the 20th anniversary of the officer's death.
More than 200 of Faulkner's friends, relatives and supporters gathered to remember the 25-year-old officer and drop white carnations on the plaque set into the sidewalk where he fell. The crowd included Police Commissioner John Timoney, District Attorney Lynne Abraham and other city officials.
"It was 20 years ago today that I and my family and Danny's friends, our lives were forever changed, and we all have a bond that will never be broken. We all have the heartache. We know what it's like to lose a loved one to murder," said his widow, Maureen Faulkner, 45, her voice breaking with emotion.
"We will continue to stand behind his name and speak out about the truth on the night he was murdered."
Mumia Abu-Jamal, a radio journalist, former Black Panther, taxi driver and MOVE devotee, was convicted in Faulkner's slaying and remains on death row pending appeals claiming an unfair trial and racial injustice.
His supporters staged a rally in Center City Saturday. Seven were arrested after a confrontation with police.
At yesterday's Faulkner remembrance, the only mention of Mumia was a small white sign propped up near the plaque reading: "Do Mumia's Morons Rule our Justice System?"
Mourners preferred to keep the focus on Faulkner, announcing $5,000 college scholarships in his name for two children of murdered parents.
Charles Ritterson, 17, of Northeast Philadelphia, lost his mother, Trudy, and Dana Dutch, 20, of Port Richmond, lost her father, William, when four thugs burst into the Dollar Express at the Franklin Mills Mall where they worked and shot them during a Feb. 24, 2000, holdup.
Ritterson said his mother's murder changed his career plans. He shelved his plans to study business and instead hopes to become an attorney.
"I want to be a prosecutor. I want to keep animals off the street, like the man who killed Officer Faulkner and the men who killed my mother," said Ritterson, who is now a student at Wesley College in Dover, Del. *
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