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Friday, October 30, 2015

Manayunk Bridge Re-Opens After 30 Years, Creates New Connection To Other Trails

Manayunk Bridge Re-Opens After 30 Years, Creates New Connection To Other Trails

 (Credit: John McDevitt)   

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After 30 years the iconic Manayunk bridge over the Schuylkill River has reopened to pedestrians and cyclists. It links Lower Merion Township with Philadelphia and creates a new connection in a network of trails in the region known as the Circuit Trails.
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The Manayunk Bridge Trail is a .6 mile stretch. It’s the only bridge exclusively for pedestrian and cyclist over the Schuylkill river. The project cost $5.76 million dollars and work began 4 years ago.
Mayor Nutter at the Manayunk Bridge Trail.

“This will provide an additional way for people to use the bridge and the Kinwood Heritage Trail and streets to get to the Schuylkill River Trail to and from Montgomery County and Philadelphia,” says Sarah Clark-Steward who is with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Philadelphians Harmed By Water Main Break Sound Off In City Council

Philadelphians Harmed By Water Main Break Sound Off In City Council

 (credit: Pat Loeb) 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia city officials admitted, at a city council hearing, that they did not do a great job of helping residents harmed by a June water main break in West Philadelphia, but they still oppose a bill that would dictate how similar emergencies are to be handled.

The bill sets out a number of steps that water department officials say they already take after a water main break but adds certain requirements.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell introduced the bill after constituents complained about the water department’s response to the break at 52nd and Wyalusing.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Sheriff fires deputy for tossing teen across classroom

Sheriff fires deputy for tossing teen across classroom
 
AP Photo
Cars sit in the parking lot Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015, in Columbia S.C. The Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation Tuesday after Senior Deputy Ben Fields flipped a student backward in her desk and tossed her across the floor for refusing to leave her math class. Federal help was sought by Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, who called what happened at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, "very disturbing" and placed on Fields leave.
  
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- A deputy who flipped a disruptive student out of her desk and tossed her across her math class floor was fired on Wednesday.

The sheriff called his actions "unacceptable," and said videos recorded by her classmates show the girl posed no danger to anyone.

"What he should not have done is throw the student," Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said. "Police officers make mistakes too. They're human and they need to be held accountable, and that's what we've done with Deputy Ben Fields."

Civil rights groups praised the swift action against Fields, a veteran school resource officer and football coach at Spring Valley High School. Outrage spread quickly after videos of the white officer arresting the black teenager on Monday appeared on the Internet.

Scott Hayes, an attorney for the deputy, said in a statement released to local media that the officer's actions were justified and lawful. He said Fields wouldn't have any comment because of the federal investigation.

Lott thanked the FBI for investigating whether civil rights were violated, and school officials for promising to review how police are used for discipline.

"They need to understand that when they call us, we're going to take a law enforcement action," Lott said. 

"Maybe that ought to have been something handled by the school without ever calling the deputy."

The sheriff also had stern words for the student who started the confrontation by refusing to hand over her cellphone after her math teacher saw her texting in class - a violation of school policy.

Both she and another student who verbally challenged the officer's actions during the arrest still face misdemeanor charges of disturbing schools, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine or 90 days in jail, Lott said, although in most cases, judges impose alternative sentences that keep students out of jail.

"The student was not allowing the teacher to teach and not allowing the students to learn. She was very disrespectful and she started this whole incident," Lott said. "It doesn't justify his actions. But again, she needs to be held responsible for what she did."

Lott also praised the students whose videos put such an intense spotlight on his deputy's actions.
"I can't fix problems if I don't know about it," Lott said. "I would say that every citizen with a camera, if they see something that's going on that disturbs them, they should film it. Our citizens should police us."
 
Lott said he wouldn't describe Fields as remorseful, but rather sorry it all happened.

The agency's training unit determined from the videos that Fields did not follow proper training and procedure, the sheriff said.

"When you make an arrest of someone who does not have a weapon, you never let go of the subject. When he threw her across the room, he let go of her. That's what violates our policy," Lott said.

"She wasn't a danger at that point; she was just being non-compliant and disrespectful. You try to de-escalate a situation. And when you do have to put your hands on someone, there are other techniques we use."

Lott declined to release Fields' personnel file, but said none of the complaints filed against him came from the school district. He did say that he and other deputies were trained not to throw or push subjects away unless they are in danger.

An expelled student has claimed Fields targeted blacks and falsely accused him of being a gang member in 2013, court records show. That case goes to trial in January.

The girl in the videos remains unidentified, but she has obtained a prominent attorney - Todd Rutherford, who also serves as House minority leader in South Carolina's legislature.

Rutherford contradicted the sheriff's claim Tuesday that the girl "may have had a rug burn" but was otherwise uninjured. The 16-year-old has a hard cast on her arm extending to her thumb after going to the hospital Monday night, he said. She also is complaining of neck and back injuries, and psychological injuries.

"I'm positive what he did to her should not be done to any human being," Rutherford said Wednesday. "It should not be done to any animal. If he was on video and a dog bit him, and he threw a dog across the room, he'd still go to jail."

Asked about the discrepancy, Lott said officers at the scene and school administrators hadn't told him about any injuries, and "what she had once she obtained an attorney is a different matter."

Email, phone and text messages for Fields have not been returned.

More than a dozen parents and community members vented their anger at Tuesday night's school board meeting. Some, black and white alike, said the issue wasn't racial - and that schools and parents need better ways of handling defiant teens.

Rebekah Woodford, a white mother of three, said removing the deputy from the schools sends the wrong message to students.

Others strongly disagreed.

"We are sick and tired of black women being abused. You can say it's not racist all you want to," said Craig Conwell, who is black. "If that was my daughter ... that officer being fired would be the least of his worries."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mayor Nutter Asks Philly Residents To Participate In ‘Day Of Kindness’

Mayor Nutter Asks Philly Residents To Participate In ‘Day Of Kindness’

 (credit: Paul Kurtz) 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mayor Nutter has asked Philadelphians to celebrate the city’s birthday by taking part in the inaugural Day of Kindness.

There are several elements behind this kindness initiative, including Philadelphia’s 333rd birthday, the Dalai Lama and J Nathan Bazzel, executive director of the Day of Kindness.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Philadelphia Mayor Delivers Major Education Policy Speech

Philadelphia Mayor Delivers Major Education Policy Speech
 
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  Mayor Nutter has proposed a timeline for abolishing the School Reform Commission by September 2018.  It’s part of his recommendations to the next mayor for improving Philadelphia public schools.
 
The mayor suggests a year-long conversation next year on governance, followed by a year of putting into place new accountability practices. That would allow nine months for the legal process of dissolving the SRC before a local, mayor-appointed school board takes over for the 2018-19 school year.  “Returning local control means the voters know who to hold accountable for educational outcomes,” he said.

Mayor Nutter stresses this can only be done once the state adopts a full and fair funding formula. Education activist and City Council candidate Helen Gym says students can’t afford to wait.  “The question is what are we working for now, not just what are we waiting for,” she said.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Arrest of girl who texted in class prompts civil rights case

Arrest of girl who texted in class prompts civil rights case
 
AP Photo
South Carolina NAACP President Lonnie Randolph speaks a news conference about the incident the occurred Monday at Spring Valley High School, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015, in Columbia S.C. The Justice Department opened a civil rights probe Tuesday into the arrest of a student who refused to leave her high school math class, where Richland County sheriff deputy Ben Fields was recorded flipping the girl backward in her desk and tossing her across the classroom floor.
   
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- A girl who refused to surrender her phone after texting in math class was flipped backward and tossed across the classroom floor by a sheriff's deputy, prompting a federal civil rights probe on Tuesday.

The sheriff said the girl "may have had a rug burn" but was not injured, and said the teacher and vice principal felt the officer acted appropriately. Still, videos of the confrontation between a white officer and black girl stirred such outrage that he called the FBI and Justice Department for help.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott suspended Senior Deputy Ben Fields without pay, and said what he did at Spring Valley High School in Columbia made him want to "throw up."

"Literally, it just makes you sick to your stomach when you see that initial video. But again, that's a snapshot," he said.

Videos taken by students and posted online show Fields warning the girl to leave her seat or be forcibly removed on Monday. The officer then wraps a forearm around her neck, flips her and the desk backward onto the floor, tosses her toward the front of the classroom and handcuffs her.

Lott pointed out at a news conference that the girl can also be seen trying to strike the officer as she was being taken down, but said he's focused on the deputy's actions as he decides within 24 hours whether Fields should remain on the force.

"I think sometimes our officers are put in uncomfortable positions when a teacher can't control a student," the sheriff said, promising to be fair.

Email, phone and text messages for Fields were not returned.

The deputy also arrested a second student who verbally objected to his actions. Both girls were charged with disturbing schools and released to their parents. Their names were not officially released.

The second student, Niya Kenny, told WLTX-TV that she felt she had to say something. Doris Kenny said she's proud her daughter was "brave enough to speak out against what was going on."

Appearing on MSNBC Tuesday night, Niya Kenny said an administrator told her to sit down, be quiet and to put her cellphone away. She refused.

"'This is not right. This is not right,'" Kenny recalled saying in the classroom. "'I can't believe y'all are doing this to her.'"

Kenny said Fields arrested her and handcuffed her inside the classroom.

Lt. Curtis Wilson told The Associated Press in an email to "keep in mind this is not a race issue."

"Race is indeed a factor," countered South Carolina's NAACP president, Lonnie Randolph Jr., who praised the Justice Department for agreeing to investigate.

"To be thrown out of her seat as she was thrown, and dumped on the floor ... I don't ever recall a female student who is not of color (being treated this way). It doesn't affect white students," Randolph said.

The sheriff, for his part, said race won't factor into his evaluation: "It really doesn't matter to me whether that child had been purple," Lott said.

Tony Robinson Jr., who recorded the final moments, said it all began when the teacher asked the girl to hand over her phone during class. She refused, so he called an administrator, who summoned the officer.

"The administrator tried to get her to move and pleaded with her to get out of her seat," Robinson told WLTX. "She said she really hadn't done anything wrong. She said she took her phone out, but it was only for a quick second, you know, please, she was begging, apologetic."

"Next, the administrator called Deputy Fields in. ... He asked, 'Will you move?' and she said 'No, I haven't done anything wrong,'" Robinson said.

"When I saw what was going to happen, my immediate first thing to think was, let me get this on camera. This was going to be something ... that everyone else needs to see, something that we can't just let this pass by."

Districts across the country put officers in schools after teenagers massacred fellow students at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999. Schools now routinely summon police to discipline students, experts say.

"Kids are not criminals, by the way. When they won't get up, when they won't put up the phone, they're silly, disobedient kids - not criminals," said John Whitehead, founder of the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization.

Police should guard doors to "stop the crazies from getting in these schools," Whitehead said, but "when you have police in the schools, you're going to run into this - having police do what teachers and parents should do."

The National Association of School Resource Officers recommends that schools and police agree to prohibit officers "from becoming involved in formal school discipline situations that are the responsibility of school administrators."

At a school board meeting Tuesday night, parents spoke out about the arrest.

"This is not a race issue," said Rebekah Woodford, a white mother of two Spring Valley graduates and one current student. "This is, 'I want to be defiant and not do what I'm told.' ... The child is the one who can choose what to do."

School Superintendent Debbie Hamm said "the district will not tolerate any actions that jeopardize the safety of our students." School Board Chairman Jim Manning called the deputy's actions "shamefully shocking."

Fields, who also coaches football at the high school, has prevailed against accusations of excessive force and racial bias before.

Trial is set for January in the case of an expelled student who claims Fields targeted blacks and falsely accused him of being a gang member in 2013. In another case, a federal jury sided with Fields after a black couple accused him of excessive force and battery during a noise complaint arrest in 2005. A third lawsuit, dismissed in 2009, involved a woman who accused him of battery and violating her rights during a 2006 arrest.

PRESS RELEASE Philadelphia, PA USA- Power WVSR 1360.1 AM/Power88 The FM announces Gilbert Lomax Jr. and Doris Hall-James: Music Single "Knocks Me Off My Feet" (Single) 2014 Week One Premier, Wednesday, October 2015 at 7pm- Music Cd Cover Featuring and Introducing Amber Middleton, Beauty Model

PRESS RELEASE Philadelphia, PA, USA- Power WVSR 1360.1 AM/Power88 The FM announces Gilbert Lomax Jr. and Doris Hall-James: Music Single "Knocks me Off My Feet" (Single) 2014 Week One Premier, Wednesday, October 2015 at 7pm- Music Cd Cover Featuring and Introducing Amber Middleton, Beauty Model


























Above: Gilbert F. Lomax Jr./Halo2/Doris Hall-James “Knocks Me Off My Feet”
Knocks Me Off My Feet (Single) 2014; Artist Gilbert F. Lomax Jr., Halo2,
Doris Hall-James R&B /Philly Soul, Featuring Amber Middleton, Philly
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Gilbert Lomax Jr. and Doris Hall-James used Philly’s 2014 Top Advanced Beauty Model, Amber Middleton for the Knocks Me Off My Feet music cd cover. Middleton was discovered by Hall-James for the music project.

Great music and beauty models often go all together as a hit. The Lomax Jr. and Hall-James Knocks Me Off My Feet song has tight instrumental sound blend to be a hit with Power WVSR 1360.1 and Power88 The FM listeners come this Wednesday night from 7pm - 8pm.

Meanwhile, because of Gilbert Lomax Jr.’s and Doris Hall-James’ Master Music Professional skills you can search for the “Knocks Me Off My Feet” single music cd cover featuring Amber Middleton by Gilbert Lomax Jr./Halo2/Doris Hall-James on the Power88 The FM radio station website www.power88.us.

Radio stations Power WVSR1360.1 AM and Power88 The FM will premiere the single “Knocks Me Off My Feet” love song Wednesday evening, October 2015 starting 7pm - 8pm. Listeners can tune in to listen live at www.powerwvsr1360.us and www.power88.us.

Check out Gilbert Lomax Jr., “Knocks Me Off My Feet” (Single) on the net at: Cdbaby music store on the or web www.cdbaby.com/cd/halo21 or ITunes music store on the web
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Doris Hall-James and Gilbert Lomax Jr. will be available all week for discussion about the music cd single “Knocks Me Off My Feet” at the Simply Music studio (Doris Hall-James is the owner/CEO) located 251 South 60th Street near the corner of 60th and Irving Street West Philadelphia.

Call 267-603-3767, 267-701-2359, or 267-603-3767 to make an appointment about Gilbert Lomax Jr. and Doris Hall-James- the hit music makers.





Sunday, October 25, 2015

Needy Families Get Halloween Costumes Thanks To Local Teen

Needy Families Get Halloween Costumes Thanks To Local Teen

 Families looking at costumes at Angels of God Clothing Closet in New Jersey. (Credit: Mike Dougherty) 
Families looking at costumes at Angels of God Clothing Closet 
in New Jersey.
 
PITMAN, N.J. (CBS) – A South Jersey teenager is doing her part to help families in need by handing out Halloween costumes.

The Angels of God Clothing Closet in Pitman normally gives away things like jeans and dresses, but the racks have been filled with costumes for kids.

The line to get in is proof that 19-year-old Katelyn Darrow is on to something.

“All of the costumes are donated from the community,” she tells KYW Newsradio.

And there are hundreds of them. Stephanie, a single mom of three from Sicklerville, is impressed by the selection:
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“My son is going between Abe Lincoln and Darth Vader. It’s really great what they do here.”

For full story go to: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Local Facility Offers Free Self-Defense Classes For Women

Local Facility Offers Free Self-Defense Classes For Women
 
CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) – October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and a self-defense facility in Cherry Hill used the opportunity to teach women how to protect and defend — all for free.

College-student Mariana says she doesn’t want to be scared anymore:
“If anything happens, what I gotta do? I gotta defend myself.”

So she decided to try Krav Maga.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Friday, October 23, 2015

ACT: Join Tamir Rice's mother — Samaria Rice — in demanding a special prosecutor take over the prosecution of her son's killing.

ACT: Join Tamir Rice's mother — Samaria Rice — in demanding a special prosecutor take over the prosecution of her son's killing.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty is doing everything in his power to prevent justice for Tamir Rice.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty is standing in the way of justice for Tamir Rice.
Hv
Urge McGinty to step aside and request a special prosecutor:
Dear Rahim,
It's been nearly a year since Cleveland police brutally killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice as he played in the park, and not one officer has been held accountable.1 It's despicable.
Despite more than enough evidence to file criminal charges, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty hasn't even presented the case to a grand jury. In June, a federal judge ruled that Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback should face murder charges for Tamir's killing, yet McGinty has chosen to disregard the ruling.2 Instead, he is going out of his way to defend the police, recently releasing two reports by discredited pro-police "experts" saying that Tamir's killing was "justified."3
We've seen this all before — and won't stand for it. Prosecutors are supposed to fight on behalf of victims, but when the victims are Black and police are the perpetrators, the vast majority of local prosecutors — who work closely with police on the day to day — fail to do their jobs.4 With enough public outrage, we can stop this cover-up in its tracks.

Join Tamir Rice's mother — Samaria Rice — in demanding a special prosecutor take over the prosecution of her son's killing.

Go to colorofchange.org changing the color of democracy at http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/da-mcginty-step-aside/?t=3&akid=4921.590311.3OnL5K to sign the petition. 

 
  • Nearly one year later, and McGinty is still "investigating" — or rather, stalling. This type of delayed justice is denied justice, and Black families are disproportionately forced to suffer the agony of waiting months for the most basic forms of accountability. McGinty's failures are even more glaring when you compare his conduct with that of prosecutors who do their jobs and hold violent police accountable. Baltimore District Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged the police who killed Freddie Gray in less than 3 weeks after he was killed.9
  • McGinty is acting like a defense attorney for Officers Loehmann and Garmback, instead of as Tamir's advocate. According to the Rice family lawyer, it is unprecedented for a prosecutor to call in "experts" to argue against the core issue of a case before it's even brought to trial.10 And the "experts" McGinty chose are not objective or independent; both have a long history of discredited pro-police bias. It's clear McGinty is using their testimony as political cover to let Tamir's killers off the hook in the coming weeks.
  • McGinty is perpetuating the same systemic racism that took Tamir's life. Due to implicit racial bias, police officers are statistically more likely to shoot a Black person than a white person, including a 12-year-old child playing in the park.11 And last December, the federal government found a systemic pattern of police violence targeting Black residents in Cleveland.12 By failing to hold the police who killed Tamir Rice accountable, as well the officers who have killed other Cleveland residents, such as Tanisha Anderson, McGinty is allowing structural racism to continue unabated.13
Onward,
— Scott, Rashad, Arisha, Lyla and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.
Help support our work. ColorOfChange.org is powered by YOU—your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don't share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way.
References:
1. "In Tamir Rice Case, Many Errors by Cleveland Police, Then a Fatal One," NYTimes 01-22-2015
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5086?t=8&akid=4921.590311.3OnL5K
2. "Cleveland judge finds probable cause for murder charge in Tamir Rice shooting," Washington Post 06-11-2015
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5420?t=10&akid=4921.590311.3OnL5K
3. "Tamir Rice family says prosecutor is biased, should step aside," Al Jazeera 10-16-2015
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5417?t=12&akid=4921.590311.3OnL5K
4. "Thousands Dead, Few Prosecuted" Washington Post 04-11-2015
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/4861?t=14&akid=4921.590311.3OnL5K
5. "Re: Justice for Tamir Rice" Emery Celli Brinckerhoff and Abady LLP 10-16-2015
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5418?t=16&akid=4921.590311.3OnL5K
6. "As investigation enters fifth month, Tamir Rice’s mother has moved into a homeless shelter," Washington Post 05-04-2015
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5371?t=18&akid=4921.590311.3OnL5K
7. "Officer in Tamir Rice Case Was Accused of Choking and Beating a Woman," Mother Jones 06-03-2015
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5088?t=20&akid=4921.590311.3OnL5K
8. "8 months later, the Cleveland PD admits it was wrong to ever hire the officer who killed Tamir Rice," Daily Kos 07-20-2015
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5419?t=22&akid=4921.590311.3OnL5K
9. "Six officers charged in death of Freddie Gray" The Baltimore Sun 05-01-2015
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/4793?t=24&akid=4921.590311.3OnL5K
10. See reference 5.
11. "The Science of Why Cops Shoot Young Black Men," Mother Jones 12-01-2014
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5421?t=26&akid=4921.590311.3OnL5K
12. "The DOJ’s jaw-dropping report about the Cleveland Police Department," Washington Post 12-05-2014
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5422?t=28&akid=4921.590311.3OnL5K
13. "'Black women unnamed': how Tanisha Anderson's bad day turned into her last," Guardian 06-05-2015
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5372?t=30&akid=4921.590311.3OnL5K

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