Original article by Jeff Gammage can be found here: https://www.philly.com/news/ice-immigration-immigrants-courts-arrests-sheriffs-department-20190405.html

Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities have agreed to halt arrests of migrants inside Philadelphia courthouses, as part of an accord that defines how agents may enter and act in the halls of justice, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

The new procedure, to take effect Monday, requires plainclothes ICE agents to identify themselves to sheriff’s deputies at the front-door security stations, to reveal whether they are armed, and to state where in the building they intend to go. Those deputies will alert their supervisors, who could contact the judge in the courtroom to which the agent is headed, said Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Paris Washington.

ICE officials said they could not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The new guidelines come five days after The Inquirer reported on a March 21 incident in which an ICE agent, dressed in a Muhammad Ali T-shirt in a Criminal Justice Center courtroom, flashed a badge at a public defender and asked the lawyer about his client.

Defender John Lopez had noticed the man in Courtroom 906 and walked over to introduce himself. The man produced a photo of Lopez’s client.

“Is this person here?” the agent asked.

“No,” Lopez answered, which was true.

Washington said the agreement seeks to eliminate that kind of incident. Agents can conduct surveillance but should not approach attorneys or have physical contact with anyone, he said.

Defender Association attorneys Robin Forrest, left, and John Lopez, pictured outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia last month.

Sheriff’s deputies provide security for all courthouses, including the Stout Center for Criminal Justice, City Hall, Family Court, Traffic Court, and Philadelphia Parking Authority Court.

“I think it’s a fantastic real step forward,” said Temple University law professor Jennifer Lee, who has worked to limit ICE presence in courts. “If there’s an actual agreement, that’s important, because there’s some recognition by ICE that they don’t need to conduct these activities in courthouses.”

ICE agents still can make arrests immediately outside Philadelphia courthouses — a vexation to immigration advocates, who say that frightens away undocumented witnesses, victims, and defendants.

Despite the local agreement, national ICE policy continues to allow agents to take action inside courthouses. In those settings, they can move against specific, targeted immigrants: those who have criminal convictions, are gang members, pose national security or public-safety threats, have been ordered removed from the United States, or have reentered the country after deportation.

Attorney Brennan Gian-Grasso, who leads the Philadelphia chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, was doubtful of the new procedures having a positive impact.

“ICE has no place inside a Philadelphia courthouse,” he said. “I don’t know how much this does to change the climate. And I don’t know how much it represents a change in ICE’s intimidation of people who are trying to participate in civil society.”

Agents can still locate someone inside the courthouse, then follow that person outside to make an arrest, he noted.

The Sheriff’s Department has asked ICE to provide advance notice of planned actions immediately around the courthouse. ICE has arrested at least three people this year as they entered or left the Criminal Justice Center in Center City.

“We don’t want any friendly-fire incidents,” Washington said, citing concern inside and outside city courthouses that sheriff’s deputies might not realize ICE was making an arrest — only that an armed man seemed to be threatening someone.

A lone "Occupy ICE" demonstrator faces off against Philadelphia police on Broad Street last summer, his back to City Hall. Other protesters massed to the side.

Washington, who runs the operations division, said the agreement came out of a Thursday meeting between Sheriff’s Department, Homeland Security, and Philadelphia ICE officials.

The new guidelines come too late for Jesus Sical, 45, an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant who was arrested inside the CJC on March 29 as he tried to attend his preliminary hearing on domestic-assault charges, according to his attorney and other lawyers.

He now is being held by ICE at the Pike County Correctional Facility in Lords Valley, pending deportation.

Municipal Court Judge Karen Simmons, who was ready to hear Sical’s case, was upset that ICE short-circuited the justice system. Defense lawyers pointed out that while Sical has a 12-year-old drunken-driving conviction, on the day of his arrest he stood legally innocent of assault, with no court having ruled. ICE says it moved against Sical after Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration, as is its policy, refused the agency’s request to keep him in a city jail for pickup.

When Sical was arrested, he was not hiding or on the run. He was free on bail and preparing for his trial, accused of a vicious attack on his stepdaughter.

Simmons said she learned about Sical’s arrest only when his attorney phoned her chambers. “I don’t understand, nor do I believe it was appropriate, to not allow the person to come into the courtroom [and] handle his case,” the judge said.

She has told the Defender Association and the District Attorney’s Office that their attorneys are to alert her immediately if they notice ICE agents in her courtroom.

According to ICE, it’s safer for agents, offenders, and the public when arrests take place in courthouses, because everyone entering the building has been screened for weapons. And, officials say, courthouse arrests can be necessary in places that refuse to let agents enter their prisons and jails to take immigrants into custody.

ICE says it doesn’t know when or where Sical entered the United States.

On May 28, 2007, court records show, Sical was pulled over in the 7900 block of Bustleton Avenue by police officers, who charged him with drunken driving. His blood-alcohol content was 0.184 percent, far above the legal 0.08 definition. Sical was convicted in 2008 and sentenced to three to six days in jail, six months’ probation, and participation in drug-and-alcohol treatment programs.

That would not be his last time in trouble. Shortly before 2 a.m. on Jan. 30, 2019, police were called to a home in the 1800 block of Faunce Street in Rhawnhurst. They found Sical’s stepdaughter, Jennifer Dayana Garcia, with bruises on her neck, scratches on her face, and cuts and bruises on both hands.

She told police that Sical, angry that she had sent money to her mother in Guatemala, threatened her, “I could assault you in ways that your mother would never know. … I could grab you and have sex with you and no one would ever know.”

He fixed her in a headlock, then began strangling her, Garcia told police. She got free and started to scream, but Sical clamped his hands over her mouth, cutting off her breathing.

She broke loose, ran out of the house and called police, Garcia said.

Police charged Sical with assault, strangulation, and making terroristic threats. After ICE arrested him, the charges were withdrawn.

Nos entristece reconocer y lamentar el fallecimiento de dos miembros de la familia de la Oficina del Sheriff. Saludamos su compromiso con el más alto nivel de servicio y dedicación a sus deberes.

Sargento Michael Jesus, que prestó servicios en la Unidad de Garantías, ha sido un oficial del alguacil adjunto desde 1997. Michael alcanzó el rango de Sargento en 2016 y es un oficial de la ley de segunda generación; su padre, José Jesús también sirvió en la Unidad de Garantías del Sheriff antes que él.

La DSO Saberta Campbell se retiró recientemente de la oficina del Alguacil, y se desempeñó como diputada en el Centro de Justicia Penal Juanita Kidd Stout durante los últimos 23 años. Antes de su nombramiento como Oficial Adjunto del Alguacil, la Sra. Campbell se enorgullecía de desempeñarse como Oficial Correccional del Departamento de Prisiones de Filadelfia.

Este artículo de Jay Scott Smith se publicó originalmente en http://www.phillytrib.com/news/local_news/annual-mlk-day-luncheon-honors-those-fighting-for-justice-voting/article_ecf080d2-b3b2-51c9- b422-9b177e64be68.html

Como la nación honró al fallecido Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., la Asociación para la No Violencia de Filadelfia Martin Luther King, Jr. celebró sus Premios anuales y Almuerzo de Beneficios el lunes. La organización honró a los líderes y activistas de la comunidad local con sus premios anuales "Drum Major".

Los premios "Drum Major" se nombran en honor al famoso discurso de King "1968 Drum Major Instinct", que fue el último discurso de alto perfil de su vida y cuando dijo que "esperaba ser un tambor mayor por la paz". Los homenajeados fueron reconocidos por su servicio filantrópico y comunitario en la comunidad de Filadelfia.

Los homenajeados de este año incluyen al Sheriff de Filadelfia Jewell Williams y al Gerente de Negocios 332 de la Unión Local de los Trabajadores Internacionales de América del Norte, Samuel Staten, a Cathy Hughes, fundadora y CEO de Radio One, ya Laura Wooten, electora de 97 años de Nueva Jersey.

"Cuando eres una mujer negra de 97 años, [votar] es un tema en el que tienes mucho que decir", dijo Wooten, originaria de Princeton, Nueva Jersey. Trabajó en su primera elección en 1939 a la edad de solo 18 años, y desde entonces ha trabajado en todas las elecciones.

"Usted sabe que las elecciones son importantes", dijo. "Y, si Dios quiere, estaré allí mismo en la estación de bomberos de Lawrence Road ayudando en las urnas en 2020".

Entre los homenajeados anteriores de "Drum Major" se encuentran Joe Frazier, J. Whyatt Mondesire, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Cicely Tyson, Nelson Mandela, Dick Gregory, Rosa Parks y Donald "Ducky" Birts.

Otros galardonados en el 2019 incluyeron a Ken Harbin y Gina Ross, quienes fueron honrados por sus 14 y 12 años respectivamente en la organización con el Premio Voluntario C. Delores Tucker. La organización fue fundada por el difunto activista en 1983.

Varios funcionarios electos también asistieron al almuerzo, entre ellos el alcalde de Filadelfia Jim Kenney y el senador demócrata Bob Casey.

"Cuando pienso en Martin Luther King, la única palabra en la que pienso es en justicia", dijo Casey. “Al conmemorar su legado; luchando por la justicia todos los días del año, no solo en el Día de MLK, usted rinde homenaje a su legado por luchar por la justicia ".

Casey notó que la Asociación para la No Violencia Martin Luther King Jr. no pudo celebrar su toque ceremonial anual de la Campana de la Libertad porque la campana se cerró debido al cierre del gobierno. El senador habló durante el almuerzo y recibió un mensaje directo a Donald Trump sobre el proceso.

"Este cierre podría terminar mañana por la mañana cuando regrese a Washington", dijo Casey, tomando a Mitch McConnell, líder de la mayoría en el Senado Republicano. "Podemos hablar mucho tiempo después de la apertura del gobierno, sobre la seguridad de la frontera o cualquier otra cosa". La casa hizo su trabajo y actuó de manera responsable.

"Ahora tienes al líder de los republicanos del Senado en alianza con el presidente, quien cerró el gobierno, por lo que ahora solo tienes dos personas que pueden abrir este gobierno", agregó. "Aprobar el proyecto de ley en el Senado y abrir el gobierno primero y hacer que la gente vuelva a trabajar".

El Sheriff Jewell Williams y los miembros de la Oficina del Sheriff distribuyeron juguetes en el Veterans Multi-Service Center en Old City el 20 de diciembre de 2018. La Oficina del Sheriff recolectó los juguetes durante la temporada de vacaciones en la Oficina del Sheriff, el Centro de Justicia Criminal, el Tribunal de Familia, Traffic Court, así como dos unidades de juguetes asociadas en múltiples tiendas Five Below en todo Filadelfia. Los juguetes se distribuyen a las escuelas y centros preescolares locales, así como al Centro de Servicios para Veteranos.


Mandarin, Cantonese and other Asian languages were included for the first time in a seminars about buying properties through the Philadelphia's Sheriff's Office.

Original article by Sam Newhouse can be found here: https://www.metro.us/news/local-news/philadelphia/philly-sheriff-asian-seminar

One of the main responsibilities of the Philadelphia Sheriff's Office is running sales for the city's court system, at which tax-delinquent or foreclosed-upon properties are sold off to the highest bidder.

In a bid to make more inclusive a program that he said offers "the American dream" to the diverse non-English speaking communities of the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection, Sheriff Jewell Williams organized the office's first Sheriff's Sale seminar with Asian language interpreters on Saturday, Dec. 8.

About 300 people from all walks of life attended this Sheriff's Sale seminar, organized by the office's Real Estate Division, which included interpreters for several Asian languages, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, Filipino, Laotian and Korean. About three-quarters of attendees were Asian-Americans, while the remainder were other ethnicities taking advantage of a rare weekend seminar. Overall attendance was more than double a usual weekday seminar, Sheriff Jewell Williams said.

"It went very well. It was a historic event for the Asian community," Williams told Metro after the seminar. "The Asian community is sometimes not heard. For this seminar, Asians, African Americans, whites and Latinos came together, and they all had the same concerns, they were communicating with each other, exchanging ideas and questions."

How much will a property cost? The lowest bid depends on the type of sale, based on standards set by the Revenue Department. The highest bidder wins the property and must be prepared to make a deposit of at least $600 or 10 percent the winning bid.The Sheriff's Sale program sells off properties that have been forfeited by their past owners to the public due to unpaid mortgages or property taxes. These properties are auctioned off to recoup the city for lost revenues. Approximately 12,000 properties over 60 auctions per year.

One major change to the program since Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams took office in 2012 has been the beefing up of the office's Defendant Asset Recovery Team (DART), to return excess funds from these sales, beyond the debt on the property, to the former owner.

Sheriff's Sales are only intended to recoup overdue funds, and not intended to net a profit for the city or office. Since 2012, Williams said his office returned $16,969,816 to the original property-owners through the DART program.

Seminars on how to navigate the process are held the second Tuesday and second Friday every month at the Sheriff's Office. The office is also exploring holding more Saturday seminars, " as not everyone can attend during the week and we want the process of buying property at a Sheriff sale to be open to as many people as possible," Williams said.

This first-ever seminar with Asian interpreters, "How to Buy Property at a Sheriff Sale: A Seminar for the Asian Business Community," was held Saturday, Dec. 8, at 10-11:30 a.m., at 3801 Market St. Williams said his office is looking into holding more seminars in foreign languages and on weekend dates.

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.”