Original article by Michael D'Onforio can be found here http://www.phillytrib.com/news/we-are-in-a-crisis/article_8cb69084-2a8d-5110-b9b4-eadd81d096d0.html

 

Gun violence has scarred John Solomon.

 

One scar runs nearly 6 inches up Solomon’s left tricep toward his shoulder, the result of surgery after a bullet struck him on its way into his chest when he was 15.

 

“But the true reminder is inside of me,” Solomon said as he stood at the intersection of West Huntington and North Chadwick streets in North Philadelphia on Monday. “It’s not a physical thing,” the 26-year-old added. “It’s the trauma that I went through. It’s the trauma: That’s the biggest reminder.”

 

With shootings on the rise in the city, Solomon joined a coalition of Black men and community groups — along with Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams — who called for a cease-fire and halt to the shootings. “We are in a crisis, particularly the African-American community,” said Bilal Qayyum, founder and president of the Father’s Day Rally Committee.

 

The city has logged 234 homicides this year as of Sunday, an increase of 8 percent from the same time in 2017, according to the Philadelphia Police Department’s online database. About 84 percent of those killed have been overwhelmingly Black: 177 Black men and 20 Black women, according to a police spokesman.

 

Through Sunday, there also had been 1,193 shooting incidents with 961 shooting victims among them, said the police spokesman. One of the most recent shootings happened at the location of the press conference; a 32-year-old man was shot and killed there last week. A makeshift memorial — a photo, balloons, candles and stuffed animals — sat at the base of a telephone pole nearby. Resident Taaj Hall, 30, said that man was his long-time friend, Earl McCormick. Philadelphia police did not respond to a request to confirm the identity of the man who was killed.

 

“People are dying; people are losing their life,” Hall said. “You can’t get your life back. You can’t push replay. You can’t get it back, so we need some people to care to get together to try to stop it (gun violence).”

 

Williams, the sheriff, said he and groups have been working for years to reduce gun violence, “but the message is just not getting there.”

 

“So we’re calling on people to talk it out, and don’t shoot it out,” Williams said.

 

Mell Wells, president of One Day at a Time, said Black communities have to admit there is a problem. “It’s time to start raising hell about what we’re doing to one another,” he said. “About these babies who are dying in our street. … we’ve got to start ... putting down the guns and start helping out one another by watching each others’ back.”

 

Terry Starks, founder and executive director of the Urban Crisis Response Center, said neighborhoods need more community organizing, community engagement and youth programs. “Once the community comes out, then — like I said, aunties and uncles comes out — a lot of times guys aren’t going to do dumb stuff because their family is out,” Starks said.

 

Qayyum said the coalition will initiate jobs projects and programs to encourage the proliferation of Black-owned businesses before the end of the year with the goal of reducing gun violence. After wielding guns himself in his youth and spending five years in jail, Solomon co-founded Endangered Kind, a community group that he co-runs that addresses issues in the neighborhood.

 

Solomon said North Philadelphia neighborhood was in a “state of survival,” where residents were fearful and many carry guns because of that fear.

“When I wake up and come out here, I just know it’s danger,” he said. “There’s good things about the neighborhood, but you can’t deny the fact that it’s dangerous out here.”

 

Solomon said he believed there remains a disconnect between community leaders and those causing the violence. “We haven’t been effective at being proactive,” Solomon said. “We can come to a rally or press conference, it doesn’t take any work to do that,” he added. “You know: Somebody gets killed, we come out here and we speak. That’s easy; that’s the easy part.

But to actually be proactive and connect with these guys on a personal level to even begin to have a chance to stop the issue, that’s a whole other ballgame.”

Find the original article by Bastiaan Slabbers here https://whyy.org/articles/juneteenth-a-vibrant-celebration-of-freedom/. To translate, please visit Google Translate and select your language.

The rhythm of African drums swelled and bounced off Center City high rises as floats rounded City Hall on Saturday during the annual Juneteenth parade, commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery on June 19, 1865.

For the third year, floats rolled from City Hall to Penn’s Landing in a vibrant celebration of African culture and traditions. Participant Leighdy Morris, Queen of the RBG Brigade, said the celebration should be a national holiday similar to the Fourth of July.

On the second float of the parade a band performed the Redemption Song by Bob Marley. A few light drops of rain did not seem to hinder the participants as they made their way over the parade route.

Among the participants in the parade were Kenneth Gamble of music producing duo Gamble & Huff, Congressman Dwight Evans, Sheriff Jewell Williams, students, Police Explorer cadets, dance and performance ensembles, and many others.

This editorial was originally published on Philadelphia Gay News at http://www.epgn.com/opinion/editorials/13333-survival-of-the-fittest

 

May 3, 2018

Kristen Demilio

This week, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran an article headlined, “Sheriff sale ads: A bonanza for the politically connected in Philly.” The paper is the city’s second-largest recipient of sheriff’s ads, at $1,613,157, only behind the Legal Intelligencer at $1,812,244 annually.

The articled conflated two issues: the private-contractor system by which sheriff’s ads are placed in Philadelphia-area publications, and the fact that minority news organizations receive those same ads.

PGN places sheriff’s ads in its pages through a relationship with political operative and ad broker Ken Smuckler. The Inquirer did not disclose its own relationship with Smuckler and his connection to Gerry Lenfest, the Inquirer’s funder.

But most important is how the Inquirer exploits a 1976 law for which it lobbied to enhance the paper’s own profits at the expense of minority and LGBT media.

The Inquirer benefits from the law, which requires that sheriff’s ads be placed in a general-interest newspaper and a local legal publication. But circulation rates in that general-interest paper have declined over the years and, in its place, smaller news outlets targeting specific populations have filled in the gaps of local, independent journalism, all while remaining profitable (as PGN is).

The substance of the Inquirer’s article looking at whether middle brokers are needed to replace ads is undermined by the snarky and dismissive tone the reporters used toward multicultural media outlets.

Despite the overwhelming advantages enshrined in the law, the Inquirer’s current survival is sustained not by paying customers, but by Lenfest literally donating The Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com to the Institute for Journalism in New Media so that it can receive funding beyond the sheriff’s ads.

PGN survives by its journalism. Why can’t the Inquirer?

 

This was originally posted by Philadelphia Free Press. You can find the original piece here http://philadelphiafreepress.com/philadelphia-inquirer-seems-to-want-to-keep-public-notice-from-the-public-p7318-1.htm

Wed, May 23, 2018

By Jim Haigh

Special to the University City Review

A few weeks ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer published a deep dive into the fascinating domain of public notice. This is advertising that is required by law to be published in a newspaper, and is generally paid for by a governmental entity or stakeholders in a legal proceeding. The object of the INKY’s attention was the notice required for Sheriff Sales, and they took the tone of righteous watchdog in bashing both the Sheriff -- and all publications not named Inquirer or Daily News (or Legal Intelligencer) -- for bringing public notice to the public.

Readers of “Sheriff sale ads: A bonanza for the politically connected in Philly” can be excused for coming away with a sense of waste, fraud, abuse and dirty dealings. Because that was the obvious intent of the inflammatory headline, dramatic prose and sidebars on spending by the individual media outlet. But while INKY readers can be excused, the paper cannot: it was a self-serving, misleading and otherwise undemocratic smear job on both competitors and public notice.

A more accurate headline would read: “As INKY circulation shrinks, raises ad rates, Sheriff seeks more outlets to notify public, boost sales,” because that is, in fact what is really going on. A legitimate investigation into government malfeasance would enumerate harms, and would also be transparent in revealing any conflicts of interest held by the journalistic enterprise. The Inquirer failed horrifically on both counts. They failed to report that actual Sheriff Sale revenues have gone up dramatically with public notice being shared with more of the public. They failed to reveal the extent to which their far-ranging public notice monopoly is a “bonanza” to their bottom line -- and that they have directly lobbied against reforms that would bring more notice to more of the public.

As it turns out, the Sheriff’s decision to do what businesses do in the private sector -- treat advertising as an investment -- resulted in a “bonanza” in collections, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Here’s the money quote from PGN publisher Mark Segal in his blistering rebuttal to the hit piece, “The Inquirer did not make clear that from 2012 to 2017, since the expansion of multi-cultural advertising and changes in the Sheriff’s office, the collection of delinquent taxes and fees from the Sheriff’s office rose from $27 million to $61 million. According to the Sheriff’s office, $248.9 million has been contributed to the city tax roles since 2013.” So for all the facts and figures uncovered, strung together with innuendo of fraud and belittlement of loyal readers of all hometown papers not owned by Philadelphia Media Network, how can anyone believe they somehow missed the bigger, inconvenient truth: more notice to more of the public leads to better results?

When the blowback subsides, the INKY hatchet job on Sheriff Sale advertising will probably just be a blip on the longer arc of pay-to-read newspapers attacking rivals seeking to compete for legal advertising and public notice. While Sheriffs have discretion to operate more like the private sector in their advertising planning, the vast majority of local government bodies -- cities, boroughs, townships, counties -- can only advertise in a paid subscription model newspaper. Across our Commonwealth, community papers that have been delivered free to every neighbor in town for generations are not an option for official public notice, mandated by law to be published and paid for with local tax dollars. This paper, along with its trade association, the Mid-Atlantic Community Papers Association, have fought long and hard to change the law last modified in 1976. But in the face of logic, economics, proven results like the Philly Sheriff’s -- and in spite of the downward spiral of paid circulation -- publications including the Inquirer have been able to convince state legislators that public notice law dating back to Jimmy Carter’s peanut whistle is still in the public’s best interest.

Stay tuned....

Jim Haigh

Advocate for Local Media & Small Business

This article was written in English. To translate, please visit Google Translate and select your language.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Sheriff’s deputies fanned out across five neighborhoods in Philadelphia to hand out 1,000 free gun safety locks, while dispensing some advice on keeping children away from them.

At the corner of 52nd and Market Streets one passerby, Symir, repeated the words of Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams, “If you have a gun, you need a lock.”

“People are leaving their guns in the houses and kids find them. They’re not locked up, and kids get shot,” said Symir.

He heard about the three-year-old girl down the street who recently shot herself after finding a loaded, unlocked gun belonging to her father.

“Yeah man, if they were locked up, the little girl couldn’t have shot herself. Facts, facts, they need to first speak to the child and let them know don’t touch it, and why they shouldn’t touch it,” Symir said.

Deputy Sheriff Derrick Murphy says their aim is to help adults secure and safely store their firearms.

“We give them a little class on how to use it, and secure their weapon,” said Murphy.

The sheriff’s department estimates one in three handguns are kept loaded and unlocked in homes, and most kids know where their parents keep guns.

Find the article here: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/12/15/gun-safety-locks-philly/

In this morning's 6-2 Supreme Court decision, the crime of reckless domestic violence and abuse is now considered a misdemeanor that justifies firearms possession restriction. What does that mean? It means closing one of the many gaping loopholes in gun control legislation and cracking down on violent domestic crime. Most importantly, it means safer homes for those most at risk: women (especially women of color), LGBTQ+ folks, and children.

The Voisine v. United States decision extended the previous ruling in United States v. Castleman that declared the “firearms possession by convicted felons” illegal. So why wasn’t this a thing before?

On the books, there’s a distinction between recklessly and knowingly committing a crime, known as mens rea—their state of mind during their actions. Stephen Voisine, the man in question in this case for repeatedly becoming violent against his girlfriend, argued in court that actions charged as reckless shouldn’t be considered under the umbrella of crimes that would prevent him from buying a gun.

Virginia Villa, Voisine’s defender, argued that recklessness doesn’t necessarily constitute a “use of force.” This puts in perspective why this pretty big issue hasn't been put in the books before. She explained that she once had a client who plead guilty to a misdemeanor because he was running away from someone attacking him, and when he ran through a door and slammed it, it caught and broke the attacker’s fingers. Um, comparing a drunken assault on someone to an escape measure? I don't think so.

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan wasn’t having this excuse either, and shot back remarks that almost closed the case right then. While in Villa’s example, the client didn’t mean to hurt the man running after him, he still did. In many domestic violence cases, Kagan explained, reckless conduct between the perpetrator and victim is what leads to violence—not the use of direct violent force. Tell 'em, girl! 

Basically, the Court decided it was time to validate all the domestic violence that happens while the perpetrator is under the influence and otherwise in a volatile state that causes their actions to be executed recklessly. This is a win for feminism, equality in the home, and in finally making movements on reigning in this country’s insane, libertarian approach to gun-owning.

Yeah, it's about time.

If you want to listen to more of the case, here's a video of the whole ordeal—with dogs instead of justices (no cameras are allowed to film Supreme Court case proceedings).

Original Article via Bust: http://bust.com/living/16586-another-feminist-win-from-the-supreme-court.html

Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams and staff participated in the National Night Out city-wide effort on July 31 and August 1 at 8 locations by handing out Free Gun Locks and additional information on what the Office does and How To Buy Property at Sheriff Sales.

Philadelphia, July 3 - Sheriff Jewell Williams will urge youngsters to have a peaceful summer as he visits children’s programs this summer.

The Sheriff will “deputize” children who take a gun safety pledge as part of his Summer of Peace initiative, according to a news release.

The effort was kicked off at the end of the 2016-17 school year, when Williams visited several schools to spread the summer of peace message.

The Sheriff and Canine Carter — a member of the Sheriff’s K-9 unit — visited the Greenfield School in Center City and the Powel School in West Philadelphia to educate students about how to “stay cool” when they encounter conflicts and what to do if they find a gun at home or in their neighborhood, according to a news release.

“Be respectful, don’t bully and most importantly, if you see a gun, don’t touch it,” said Williams. “Immediately tell a parent, a nearby adult and if you are alone in a home call 911.”

According to Children’s Defense Fund, a child or teen dies by gun in the U.S. every three hours and eight minutes.

Having a gun in the home makes the likelihood of accidental death four times higher and more than half of youths committing suicide by gun found it at home and it usually belonged to the parent, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The office pointed to a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatricians that indicated “Nearly 1,300 children die and 5,790 are treated for gunshot wounds each year. Boys, older children and minorities are more likely” to fall victim to gun violence than others. In 2015, 42 percent of gun deaths were among Black children and teens.

“Don’t be a statistic,” Williams told the children when introducing Canine Carter to students at the Samuel Powel School in Powelton Village. “Use your mouth, not your fists or weapons, to settle differences. Don’t let things escalate.”

The Sheriff will be pressing this message during the months when youngsters may find themselves on the streets in tense situations: “In the warm weather months things can easily heat up. Giving kids the message they can keep themselves safe or prevent a crime is powerful and maybe if they hear it often enough they will practice what we preach. Summer is a time for fun, visiting the beach, having picnics and barbecues. I want them to stay cool in every way and help us all to have a summer of peace.”

As part of the Summer of Peace activities, the Sheriff is reaching out to groups of children at church and summer camps to take the following gun safety pledge:

I will never play with guns; if I see a gun, I won’t touch it.

I will remember that any gun I see might be loaded.

I will never go snooping or allow my friends to go snooping for guns in the house.

If I find a gun, I will tell a grown-up I know right away.

I know how important it is to keep myself safe.

Throughout the summer, the Sheriff’s Office will carry its safety message to outdoor festivals, summer gatherings, children’s programs and block captains, the news release stated.

The Office of the Sheriff is also working with Philadelphia Integrated Town Watch and Temple University Medical School’s summer outreach program to distribute gunlocks this summer to city residents to help keep children safe.

The Sheriff and City Council President Darrell Clarke began the gunlock program in August 2016. To date, more than 3,000 free gunlocks have been given to Philadelphia families through the Sheriff’s Office and City Council offices. Philadelphia residents can pick up free gunlocks at the Sheriff’s Office any weekday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 100 S. Broad St. on the 5th floor. For more information call (215) 686-3572 or visit www.phillysheriff.com.


Tribune Staff Report / The Philadelphia Tribune

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