Two Black Women Are Running To Be Sheriff Of Philadelphia And Unseat An Alleged Sexual Predator

The incumbent Jewell Williams is fighting several sexual assault accusations.

Rochelle Bilal and Malika Rahman
Photo Credit: Twitter

| April 08 2019,

12:46 am

Two Black women are running to hold a prominent position in Philadelphia and potentially unseat an alleged sexual predator. 

Rochelle Bilal and Malika Rahman are running to unseat incumbent nominee Jewell Williams, who has been embroiled in accusations of sexual assault by three women.

According to a January report from NBC Philadelphia, a suit filed by a former employee was settled for $127,500 earlier this year. Despite these accusations, Williams continued to receive endorsements from party leaders in preparation for the May 21 primary. Per NBC Philadelphia however, these endorsements were immediately retracted after an outcry from women's groups prompted decision-makers within the party to reconsider their decision. 

Bilal, 61, is a 27-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, and NBC Philadelphia writes that she also served as secretary of Philadelphia's NAACP chapter and president of the Guardian Civic League, a subsidiary of the National Black Police Association.

In an interview with The Philadelphia Citizen, Bilal candidly spoke about her North Philly upbringing and noted that she always aspired to be more than what was expected of her coming from an impoverished community.

"We didn’t realize we were really poor, because everybody was," she said. “But I knew I needed something more, that I was going to be more than my environment."

Her opponent just celebrated a decade in law enforcement, getting her start as a correctional officer in the Philadelphia prison system. Rahman acknowledged the need for a woman to hold this position, noting the level of confidence it would place among citizens.

"It was more of a need and necessity for the people," Rahman said to NBC Philadelphia. "As women, [Bilal and I] are both concerned for the need for change-providing adequate services the public can feel comfortable with and trust in."

Although born in Baltimore, Rahman settled in Southwest Philadelphia when she 14 years old. She left her job as a deputy to run for office. The 32-year-old believes what the sheriff's division is lacking is real leadership.

"If we continue to allow mediocre leadership, we will continue to get mediocre performance out of the office," she told The Philadelphia Citizen.

Both candidates are entering this race with major initiatives. One of Bilal's campaign agendas includes a program familiar to Philadelphia residents: Neighbor on the Block. The program mirrors Cop on the Block, a federal initiative that sold houses to deputies for 50% of their value on the condition that they lived in those homes for five years.

For Rahman, she wants to bring a sense of transparency in her role and intends on changing the reputation law enforcement has within the City of Brotherly Love.

"I want to be the change agent," Rahman explained. "I want to see [the sheriff’s office] represent the people of this city."

If either woman is elected, they will become the city's second female sheriff.

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