Kobe Bryant Memorabilia Stolen From Lower Merion High School

Photo by Michael Wa via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Michael Wa via Wikimedia Commons

When most of us hear the phrase “Kobe case,” we think about those pesky sexual assault allegations against basketball star Kobe Bryant. But at Lower Merion High School, where Bryant famously played, the “Kobe case” is an actual display case containing all sorts of Kobe Bryant memorabilia. On Sunday night, thieves broke into the school and stole some of those items. Read more »

Philly Woman Raising Money to “Buy Pat Toomey’s Vote” on Betsy DeVos

Left: Katherine Fritz protests in Philly on January 21st. Right: A screenshot of her GoFundMe campaign to "Buy Pat Toomey's Vote."

Left: Katherine Fritz protests in Philly on January 21st. Right: A screenshot of her GoFundMe campaign to “Buy Pat Toomey’s Vote.”

Ever since Betsy DeVos became Donald Trump‘s nominee for Secretary of Education, 31-year-old South Philadelphia woman Katherine Fritz has, like many other Pennsylvanians, made daily phone calls to U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey‘s office to urge him to vote no. But on Wednesday, after getting through to the office became more and more difficult — in part because so many people were trying to call — Fritz got frustrated and decided on a new tactic: She wants to buy Pat Toomey’s vote. Read more »

Why a Cockroach Infestation Isn’t Enough to Get Dirty Frank’s Shut Down

Behind the Brown Door: Dirty Frank's and its hungry family of cockroaches. (Photo by Claire Hoffman)

Behind the Brown Door: Dirty Frank’s and its hungry family of cockroaches. (Photo by Claire Hoffman)

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped into Dirty Frank’s, the cash-only, windowless watering hole at the corner of 13th and Pine. Inside, I found all the things you’d expect to find in a bar like Dirty Frank’s: a diverse bunch downing cheap drinks. One of those play-anything jukeboxes. Weird artwork. A flatscreen on the wall showing CNN.

But then there were also the roaches. Read more »

New Child Porn Charge for Former City Employee on House Arrest

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Since his arrest last summer on computer-related child porn charges, former city employee Grant Shea has had a pretty easy time of things.

Scheduled to go to trial next week to face those charges, Shea, 29, has been hanging out at the South Philly home he owns, released on his own recognizance. He has, for some ungodly reason, been allowed to have a computer connected to the internet, albeit one monitored by the government. And he was permitted to leave the city on two occasions to spend holidays with family. Not bad for a guy whose computers allegedly contained pornographic images of children under the age of 12.

Well, things just got a little more complicated for Shea. On Monday, federal authorities arrested him again. Read more »

Opa Is Still Closed Due to “Live Mouse” Problem

Photos by Ashley Cappetta

Photos by Ashley Cappetta

For some restaurants in Center City, the Friday of January’s Restaurant Week is the single busiest night of the year. But over at Opa, the Greek restaurant-and-bar at the corner of 13th and Sansom streets, business couldn’t be worse. Read more »

Philly Police and Protesters Show the World How It’s Done

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Any time thousands of protesters pour into the streets of a city, very bad things can happen, as history has shown us time and time again. But on Thursday, Philadelphians once again proved that we know how to do it right.

People love to argue about crowd sizes, it seems, but suffice it to say there were a lot of shouting, chanting, angry people in Center City to protest Donald Trump and the Republican leaders who were holed up at the Loews Hotel for much of the day. At least 5,000.

And there were a ton of police officers. Everywhere. There were uniformed cops lined up around the sea of protesters. There were bike cops. There were, I’m sure, plenty of undercover cops.

There were so many cops that one protester told me she found it unnerving. She told me that she only saw three uniformed police officers during the big women’s march in Washington, D.C. I found that to be a pretty suspicious claim, but … I got her point. Cops galore.

But one thing there wasn’t on Thursday: problems.

According to the Philadelphia Police Department, there were zero — yes, zero — protest-related arrests on Thursday. And only one — yes, one — written citation. That was for disorderly conduct. Big whoop. That person will probably pay a small fine and be done with it.

Oh, there were a handful of “clashes” between cops and protesters.

At 13th and Market, cops grabbed a young masked guy, all clad in black. As I held my camera probably too close to the action, a couple of the cops asked me very politely to step back a bit. (I hadn’t identified myself as a member of the press and wore no press credentials, by the way.) And they spoke to the man quietly and politely as well.

In the end, they told the guy to scram and that if he wanted them to return the can of spray paint they found in his bag, he was free to go to the police station to pick it up. The cop in charge also calmly told him to tell his buds to protest all they want but that they’re going to have a problem if they insist on tagging the city. Fair enough. One anti-Trump protester told the head cop that he’d be happy to go to court as a witness on behalf if the police if the kid tried to claim he was roughed up.

And in all my conversations with friends and colleagues and all my searches through the social media feeds of folks at the protest, I found only two other anecdotes of significance, and barely that. In one, shield-assisted cops were seen pushing back on a crowd. In the other:

“I saw one police officer come out of nowhere and use his shoulder to destroy this kid who had gone through a police line,” wrote one Philadelphia man who attended the protest. “No one noticed but I thought it was excessive. The office was … easily twice the kid’s size. I thought it was a bully move and almost escalated the situation, so I was disappointed …”

We’ve never heard of a person being destroyed by a shoulder, but cool.

In the end, no broken windows. No reports of tear gassing, macing, or stun-gunning. No arrests. No videos of cops or protesters behaving badly — well, assuming you’re not offended by protesters chanting “asshole” over and over again or vagina-emblazoned posters and posters declaring “FUCK TRUMP.”

All in all, a great day for Philadelphia. Well, apart from the whole Donald-Trump-is-still-in-the-White-House business.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter

PPA Refused to Ticket Republican Senator’s Illegally Parked Car

The driver for the Republican senator talks a PPA agent out of giving him a ticket for being parked illegally. (Note that the Counter Terrorism truck in the back had nothing to do with this exchange. It was just driving by.)

The driver for the Republican senator talks the PPA agent out of giving him a ticket for being parked illegally. (Note that the Counter Terrorism truck in the back had nothing to do with this exchange. It was just driving by.)

If your car is parked in a no-stopping zone in Center City, you will, no doubt, get a $51 ticket. Your car might even be towed. But if you’re a Republican senator of the United States, well, the rules are apparently just a little bit different.

On Wednesday evening, as I was in Center City to cover the protesters surrounding the Republican retreat at the Loews Hotel, I saw a Philadelphia Parking Authority agent working his way up the 1400 block of Sansom Street. (Yes, the same PPA that has long been a Republican patronage haven in Philadelphia.)

As he lumbered along, the agent encountered an illegally parked orange Jeep Wrangler JK. It was in a clearly marked no-stopping zone across the street from the side entrance of the Union League. (Yes, the same Union League that has been a Republican stiff-shirted haven for many years.) Read more »

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