Ernest Owens, LGBT editor at Philadelphia Magazine, says he was interrogated by Philadelphia’s counterterrorism unit last year over a Facebook comment. In December, Owens published a post on racial tensions in Philly’s “Gayborhood,” writing, “I say, ‘F– em,’ they will be shown better than told. I will just leave it at that. A great reckoning is coming.” Four days later, he received a phone call from the police department. According to Owens, his Miranda rights were read, and he was asked a series of jarring questions: Do you plan to harm any Mummers or anyone from ICandy? Do you own a gun? Do you know how to make a bomb? Did you have military training?
James DePre, leader of the Quaker City String Band, said he was the person who reported the Facebook comment to police. “‘If you see something, say something.’ I don’t even know who he is,” DePre said of Owens. But Owens explained that the comments “were rooted in coverage I had done in the community dealing with black and brown people and the LGBTQ community, who are discriminated against.” Owens was cleared of any wrongdoing and was told the interview was standard protocol. However, this week he rebuked the authorities, “I think that the police definitely have to recognize their force in this situation and their power. They did not use the right level of discretion in this situation. Just because you have the authority and the power doesn't mean you have to abuse it.”