Pa. State Rep: I’ll Run Over Protesters Who Block Traffic

aaron bernstine, protesters

Meet Pa. State Rep. Aaron Bernstine.

If you’d never heard of him, now you have: he’s the Republican state legislator who said in a tweet this past weekend that he would run over protesters who stood in the way of his car.

Bernstine, who serves the 10th District in western Pennsylvania, retweeted a photo of protesters blocking streets in St. Louis on Friday after a white former police officer was acquitted of murder charges in the controversial shooting of a black man.  Read more »

OPINION: There’s Only One Solution to the Hate That Fueled Charlottesville


A white supremacist carries a Nazi flag into the entrance to Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday, August 12th. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

In reference to history’s most horrific events, we often utter the words “Never forget.” But perhaps as important is that phrase’s unspoken corollary: Never ignore.

Nestled in the cocoon of democratic America seven decades after the Holocaust, many of us go about our daily lives thinking that Nazi-style hatred and prejudice are largely a thing of the past. If only it were so.

Like many other forms of irrational hatred, anti-Semitism remains in full bloom in 2017. Cable news channels were recently on high alert with wall-to-wall coverage of the goings-on in Charlottesville. While ostensibly protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, demonstrators in the Virginia city chanted “the Jews will not replace us” and carried swastikas — crystal-clear confirmation that anti-Jewish bigotry has not been eradicated. Read more »

OPINION: “Stronger Together” Is Keeping Us Apart


Protesters in Philadelphia in January | Photo: Dan McQuade

If you give a damn about social justice issues in 2017, you most certainly have heard the phrase “stronger together.” And, most likely, your first thought was “Ah, of course, we must all come together to defeat racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, classism, and more.”

The slogan of the failed Hillary Clinton campaign has now become the battle cry of progressives still trying to resist a Trump presidency. The narrative surrounding this popular message suggests that we all individually have battles to fight, but if we come together as one, we will be more effective in winning them. Read more »

Bryn Mawr to Remove References to Founder With Racist Views

bryn mawr

Bryn Mawr College will begin to scale back on its association with its M. Carey Thomas, a founder of the college who is criticized for her racist and anti-semitic views.

Thomas, a suffragette who presided over the college from 1894 to 1922, is known for advancing women’s rights – but historical accounts reveal that she almost exclusively championed the rights of white women and discriminated against Jewish and African American applicants to Bryn Mawr.

President Kim Cassidy said in a letter that two buildings named after Thomas, Thomas Great Hall and Thomas Library, will receive new titles.

“While Thomas had a profound impact on opportunities for women in higher education, on the academic development and identity of Bryn Mawr, and on the physical plan of the campus, she also openly and vigorously advanced racism and anti-Semitism as part of her vision of the college,” Cassidy said in a letter, according to the Inquirer.

The diverse Main Line women’s college will place a moratorium on the buildings’ names while a committee of faculty, students, staff, alumni and trustees determines how to approach the college’s connection to Thomas.

Bryn Mawr joins many institutions that have moved to distance themselves from controversial monuments, speakers and leaders in the wake of the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., which was spurred by white supremacists and neo-Nazis who sought to defend a Confederate statue.

Earlier this week, Stockton University in New Jersey removed from its library the bust of Richard Stockton, the college’s slave-owning namesake and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Stockton provost and vice president for Academic Affairs Lori Vermeulen said in a letter that the decision was made “to develop engaged and effective citizens with a commitment to lifelong learning and the capacity to adapt to change in a multicultural, interdependent world,” according to the Press of Atlantic City.

Elsewhere, Pennsylvania State University said in a statement this week that it will not allow Richard Spencer, a controversial white nationalist, to speak at its campus this fall.

The university called Spencer’s views “abhorrent” and said his presence would present “a major security risk to students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus.”

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

OPINION: Philly Isn’t Charlottesville. It’s Worse.

Rizzo Statue Protest | Photography by Ernest Owens

“Who is more racist: The North or the South?”

That is the age-old question I’m often asked when I tell people I moved to Philly from Texas. Initially, my answer was the South, easily. Philadelphia, with its majority Democratic political base and socially progressive laws, was a clear contrast to the land of statewide bans I grew up in.

But after seven years of residing in Philly, I can’t help but reflect on my grandmother’s long-held response to that question: “What’s worse: a town that can’t seem to get any better no how, or one that doesn’t get any better by choice?”

And it’s that line of thinking that has made me realize that Philly is one of the most unapologetically racist cities around. Read more »

Photos: Thousands Gather for “Philly is Charlottesville” Rally

philly is charlottesville

Police say more than two thousand people flooded the city’s streets on Wednesday night for the “Philly is Charlottesville” march against racism.

Interfaith organization POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild) organized the demonstration, which began at 7 p.m. near Congregation Rodeph Shalom in North Philly. Protesters marched south on Broad Street to City Hall, where they shut down surrounding streets around 8 p.m.  Read more »

“Philly is Charlottesville” Rally Planned for Center City


A white supremacist carries a Nazi flag into the entrance to Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday, August 12th. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Activists plan to gather on Wednesday night in Center City as part of the “Philly is Charlottesville” march and rally.

Interfaith organization POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild) will host the event, which kicks off at 7 p.m. outside the Congregation Rodeph Shalom Synagogue, located at 615 N. Broad Street.  Read more »

Councilwoman Gym: Rizzo Statue Must Come Down


Frank Rizzo statue | Photo by Jared Brey

Our nation is more engaged than ever in debate surrounding the monuments we choose to honor.

The stunning violence in Charlottesville, Va. this past weekend was spurred (among other things) by white supremacists fighting to keep a statue of the Confederacy’s top general. Following the rally, officials in Tennessee and Florida announced plans to remove similar monuments. On Monday night in Durham, N.C., dozens of protesters toppled a Confederate statue, then pummeled and spit on the crumpled figure as it lay on the ground.

Philly’s no stranger to this discussion – for years, we’ve grappled with calls to remove our front-and-center statue of Frank Rizzo, the notorious former mayor and police commissioner whose legacy includes enacting brutish law enforcement polices that targeted people of color.  Read more »

Charlottesville Reactions: What Took Trump and Toomey So Long?


White nationalist demonstrators use shields as they guard the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

It’s been two days since the shocking violence of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. first flashed across phone, television and computer screens around the world – two days since hundreds of people wearing swastikas and Confederate flags, some heavily armed, chanting Nazi slogans and giving the Nazi salute, flooded the streets near the University of Virginia. There they were met with counter-protesters like 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who died Saturday afternoon when a car plowed through the midst of the confrontation and sent her and others flying through the air.  Read more »

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