Local Religious Leaders Condemn Jewish Cemetery Vandalism

Mount Carmel Cemetery

Image via Google Street View

Almost 200 local religious leaders gathered this afternoon for an interfaith press conference denouncing the vandalism of the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia. The Jewish cemetery is the second in about a week to be vandalized, following the vandalism at a suburban St. Louis cemetery the previous weekend.

“When we are all one, we are stronger,” said Rev. William Worley, head of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ. “What happened in the cemetery, in the dark of night to defenseless people who are remembered there, was an act of cowardice.” Read more »

Hundreds of Headstones Vandalized at Northeast Philly Jewish Cemetery

Headstones overturned at local Jewish cemetery

Photo via Ari Fornari, rabbi at Kol Tzedek Synagogue

Hundreds of headstones at a Northeast Philadelphia Jewish cemetery were vandalized over the weekend. Police are investigating.

The vandalism was discovered on Sunday morning at the Mt. Carmel Cemetery at Frankford and Cheltenham avenues in the Wissinoming section of the city. A local rabbi told NBC 10 he counted 460 headstones that were toppled or otherwise damaged.

The Mizel Family Foundation, in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League, is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the vandals. FOP Lodge 5 head John McNesby says the union is offering a $3,000 reward as well. “Bring them in tonight and you are paid tomorrow,” he tweeted. Read more »

This Ex-Republican Running for D.A. Wants Cash Bail to Be Abolished

Michael Untermeyer | Photo courtesy of Untermeyer's campaign

Michael Untermeyer | Photo courtesy of Untermeyer’s campaign.

Michael Untermeyer is complicated.

Back in 2009 and 2011, he ran for local office as a Republican. Today, he’s campaigning for district attorney as a Democrat. “The difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party is the Democratic Party really wants government to serve people, which is why I am a Democrat,” he says. “The Republican Party doesn’t want to have government, period.”

Untermeyer’s platform includes a lot of things liberals like: The former prosecutor opposes the death penalty in most cases, vows to keep almost all drug users out of the criminal justice system, and wants cash bail to be abolished. But in this hyper-partisan era, the fact that Untermeyer once flew the GOP’s flag — and told Philly.com that “only a Democrat can win this office” — could turn off some Democratic voters. His past experience working in the civil asset forfeiture unit of the attorney general’s office may also prove a challenge in his quest to become district attorney. Read more »

The D.A. Candidate Who at 13 Saw His Father Murdered in the Street

Rich Negrin

Richard Negrin | Photo courtesy of Mark Nevins

Richard Negrin knows the trauma of gun violence firsthand. When he was just 13 years old, his father was shot dead in front of him. “It’s not fun to talk about, but I talk about it because it gives me credibility with young people,” he says. “I stand in front of classrooms and say, ‘How many of you have been touched by violence in your immediate family?’ In a first-grade class last year, 80 percent of those kids raised their hand.”

That life-changing experience, Negrin says, is why he became an assistant district attorney years ago, prosecuting hate crimes and other felony cases. He’s against a “heavy-handed, authoritarian” District Attorney’s office, he says, and wants a “community-based model that cares about all of us.” He points to Philly Rising, an initiative aimed at fighting poverty and crime that he led while working as the city’s managing director, as an example of that approach. Negrin, who once sat on the local ethics board, is also positioning himself as the good-government candidate in the district attorney’s race. The Democrat has sworn off gifts and campaign contributions from defense attorneys who may stand across from him the courtroom. Some positions he’s taken — or refused to take — may frustrate some progressives. For instance, he won’t say for now whether he wants a super PAC to back him or if cash bail should be abolished for low-level, nonviolent offenders. Read more »

Asplundh Tree Execs Charged With Running Undocumented Workers Scheme

File photo of Asplundh workers cleaning up after a 2016 snowstorm. Photo by Frank Eltman/AP

File photo of Asplundh workers cleaning up after a 2016 snowstorm. Photo by Frank Eltman/AP

Willow Grove-based Asplundh Tree Expert Co. is huge, privately owned corporation with more than 36,000 employees and estimated annual sales of $3.5 billion, according to Forbes, which counts it as one of America’s largest private companies. But now, Asplundh finds itself the recipient of some very unwelcome attention thanks to charges just filed in federal court. Read more »

Cops to South Philly Drivers: Um, Don’t Leave Your Car Running

Cat on the roof of a car

A cat on the roof of a car (that has not been stolen) in South Philadelphia | Photo: Dan McQuade

Police have a message for car-owning residents of South Philadelphia: Don’t leave your car running.

According to the Bella Vista Neighbors Association newsletter, police have noticed an uptick in car thefts on the eastern half of South Philly this year.

In the last 30 days, 41 cars were stolen in the 3rd District, which goes from the river to Broad and Bainbridge to the stadiums. Police report that 25 of them were stolen with the keys in the ignition and the motor running. “Police advise drivers, including delivery drivers, to take keys with them and skip warming up the car or truck,” says the newsletter. Read more »

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