Lawyers Say Stop-and-Frisk Still Targets Black Residents in Philly

A report released earlier this month found that stop-and-frisk practices were slowly improving in Philly.

But follow-up analysis compiled by the same group – plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the city – claims that stop-and-frisk still disproportionately affects minority residents – particularly black men and women.

According to data released yesterday, black pedestrians accounted for 70 percent of stop-and-frisks conducted in Philly in the second half of 2016. Black and Latino residents were the target of 77 percent of stop-and-frisks during that same time period. Read more »

Former Philly Trans Conference Co-Chair Speaks Out After ACLU Files Suit

Lourdes Ashley Hunter

Lourdes Ashley Hunter

On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of D.C. announced a lawsuit against the D.C. Police Department over the alleged “illegal entry” of the home of Lourdes Ashley Hunter, the executive director and co-founder of the Trans Women of Color Collective.

The incident took place on November 16, 2016, when police arrested Hunter in a confrontation that was filmed on Facebook Live:

In a statement, the ACLU claims “the warrantless home entry and arrest violated the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures as well as a D.C. law prohibiting most warrantless arrests for alleged misdemeanors.”

G Philly spoke with Hunter about the process to getting her case taken up by the ACLU and next steps. Read more »

LGBTQ Event of the Week: Queering Racial Justice Institute

Queering Racial Justice Institute is a day-long event happening this Saturday at the African American Museum.

Queering Racial Justice Institute is a daylong event happening this Saturday at the African American Museum.

For its impressive lineup of national and local guests and its all-inclusive focus on timely subject matter, this week’s LGBTQ event of the week is the Queering Racial Justice Institute. Backed by the National LGBT Task Force, ACLU, Equality Pennsylvania, NAACP, and many other social justice organizations, the daylong event features interactive workshops, caucuses, and general assemblies. Participants from all walks of life are encouraged to discuss racial justice issues affecting the LGBTQ community with advocacy experts and community leaders. (Disclosure: I will be leading a workshop at the event on the state of race relations in the Gayborhood.) Read more »

ACLU Sues City Over DNC Protest Permit Denial

The Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign and the ACLU announce their lawsuit against Philadelphia

From left: Elizabeth Ortiz, German Parobi, Cheri Honkla, Galen Tyler and Mary Catherine Roper. The ACLU and the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign gathered on Thursday morning to announce a lawsuit against the City.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia today over the denial of a protest march permit on the opening day of the Democratic National Convention. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, founded in 1998 by Cheri Honkala.

“This city closes down streets for block parties, for Cinco de Mayo, for food festivals — including during rush hour — but they will not give the protesters permission to use the streets during rush hour,” ACLU of Pennsylvania Deputy Legal Director Mary Catherine Roper said.

At a press conference today in South Philadelphia, Roper and Honkala outlined their grievance: The city, they say, has forbidden protest marches in Center City between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. during this summer’s DNC. Honkala’s group wants to march down Broad Street from City Hall to the Wells Fargo Center at 3 p.m. on the opening day of the convention, July 25th.

“We’re the only folks so far that I know of that have been told we cannot march,” Honkala said. Read more »

ACLU and Mazzoni Center Join City in Filing Brief Against SEPTA

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mazzoni Center joined the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations in filing a brief last Thursday to the State’s Supreme Court, asking to overturn the Commonwealth Court’s August 7 ruling in favor of SEPTA. That ruling indicated that SEPTA was not subject to Philadelphia’s city ordinance which bans discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity. Read more »

Philadelphia Police Reform: The Path Forward

Clockwise from left: Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey; Bishop Dwayne Royster of POWER; JoAnne Epps, dean of Temple Law; Mary Catherine Roper of ACLU; and Tanya Brown-Dickerson with attorney Brian Mildenberg.

Clockwise from left: Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey; Bishop Dwayne Royster of POWER; JoAnne Epps, dean of Temple Law; Mary Catherine Roper of ACLU; and Tanya Brown-Dickerson with attorney Brian Mildenberg.

We’ve heard what the experts think needs to change about the Philadelphia Police Department. And we’ve heard what the feds think, too. But what about the community?

After two reports — one from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, the other from a Department of Justice Review of Philadelphia policing practices — the Philadelphia Police Department is embarking on a widespread reform effort that is expected to take 18 months to complete.   Read more »

ACLU: Philly Police Still Stopping and Frisking

crime main

Updated with response from police.

Philadelphia Police continue to single out “racial minorities” for unfair and unconstitutional stop-and-frisk searches, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a report released today. The ACLU said it was considering seeking “court intervention” in the matter.

“On the issue of whether stops and frisks are supported by reasonable suspicion, the data shows very high levels of impermissible stops,” the ACLU said in a court filing.

“And, on the issue of whether impermissible racial factors are causing high numbers of racial minorities to be stopped and frisked, consideration of the ‘benchmarks’ for assessing possible racial bias demonstrates that non-racial factors do not explain the racial disparities,” the filing said. “There is an urgent need for substantial improvements on both issues, and if that is not accomplished in the near future, we will seek court intervention.”

“The Department is aware of the recent filing by the ACLU and the law department will respond accordingly via the courts,” Philly Police said in a written statement released this afternoon. “The Department will not release any rebuttal prior to taking the appropriate legal action through the courts.”
Read more »

ACLU Challenges Anti-Mumia Law


The ACLU has filed suit on behalf of a group of Pennsylvania journalists and academics, challenging the new law passed in the wake of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s commencement speech to a Vermont college last year.

The law lets crime victims collect damages from prison inmates whose conduct “causes a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish” in their original crime victim. “The ACLU challenged it in federal court Thursday, saying it stifles advocacy and debate on prison issues,” AP reports.
Read more »

100 Percent of High Schoolers Attend Football Game Sober

Ah, high school football. The tradition, the camaraderie, the breathalyzer tests you have to pass to get in. At a Phoenixville Area High School football game over the weekend, students attending the game without their parents had to pass a breath test in order to be admitted.

This is not a new policy for school events: Routinely in many districts, students are tested for alcohol in order to attend dances or other extracurricular activities. This is the first time tests were done at a Phoenixville football game, but in a statement officials say the district has done it for other events. Fox got details on the reasoning for the tests: “Administrators declined to talk on camera, but tell FOX 29 they heard some students were going to the game drunk, so they took action.”

Read more »

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