Philadelphia, PA

Philly transit disabled ruling praised

January 18, 2001
A recent ruling requiring better transit service for the disabled was hailed as a landmark decision that will affect transit agencies nationwide. 
     U.S. Eastern District Court Judge Lowell A. Reed Jr. ruled on January 8 that Philadelphia's transit agency, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, must provide service to all disabled riders within a day of requesting a ride. 
     The agency now requires paratransit reservations from one to seven days in advance and denies next-day service 13 percent of the time. 
      Arthur Lopez, chief of the Federal Transit Administration's civil-rights unit, said the ruling opens up transit the same way Rosa Parks did when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955. 
     "Disabled people just want to get on the bus and get yelled at by the bus driver like everybody else," he said. "This means access for another group of people." 

Bias case seeks class-action status

January 02, 2001
Attorneys have filed a new federal court complaint seeking class-action status for lawsuits accusing the Adam's Mark hotel chain of discriminating against black employees and customers. 
     The court refused to allow attorneys to amend earlier complaints alleging discrimination by the Adam's Mark Hotel in Philadelphia and the Quincy's nightclub that the hotel formerly operated, attorney Samuel Dion said Tuesday.
     Dion said the amended complaint filed Thursday seeks to expand the case into a class action, making discrimination claims on behalf of employees and nightclub patrons at all of Adam's Mark's 21 hotels in 12 states. 
     It may be a year before the court rules on whether the case qualifies as a class action, he said. No hearing date had been set as of Tuesday. 

James Byrd's sister helps Gore

November 05, 2000
The sister of James Byrd Jr. graphically recounted his 1998 murder behind a pickup truck in Texas as she campaigned with Al Gore Sunday and charged that Texas GOP Gov. George W. Bush "did nothing" to help her family.
      Louvon Harris, at an outdoor rally with Gore, Bush's Democrat presidential opponent, spoke of how her brother was fatally dragged.
      "They spray-painted him black, chained him to a truck, dragged him three miles. His head came off, his arms – dismembered his whole body," Harris said to a crowd on the lawn outside Philadelphia's Memorial Hall.
      "We have a governor of Texas who doesn't think that's a hate crime," she added to groans from the audience.

NAACP's Mfume predicts large black voter turnout

October 22, 2000
This year's presidential race isthe most important in recent memory for black Americans and is likely to produce thelargest black voter turnout in at least a decade, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume says.
     ``The pundits and the pollsters are overlooking the importance of theAfrican-American vote,'' Mfume said in an interview. ``The impact of the black vote will probably be greater than it has been in the past 10 or 12years.'' 
     With Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore neck-and-neck in the polls and apathy high among thegeneral public, analysts say a big turnout among blacks could hurt Bush in battlegroundstates like Florida, Missouri and Pennsylvania, where there are large black populations.
     And the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancementof Colored People, the largest and oldest U.S. civil rights organization, is pouring millions of dollars into the most aggressive voter campaign in its91-year history. 

Neighbors oppose housing for ex-offenders

October 10, 2000
A man who wants to develop a housing facility for prison inmates working theirway back into the community appeared to be taken aback last night by an overflowcrowd of Germantown residents opposed to the project.
     Mark Nicoletti, the developer of what would be transitional housingfor non-violent prisoners, promised the Penn Knox Neighbors group, which organized themeeting, that he would put the project on hold.
     Tina LeCoff, chairperson of the Penn Knox Neighbors, said, "I'mgoing to call him tomorrow and make sure he writes the letter."
     The project has been under construction at the former Asher CandyCo. buildings at Armat and Woodlawn streets since spring, but the residents said they justfound out about it two weeks ago when a resident asked construction workers what they were building.
     Many residents felt the project was being slipped into theirneighborhood behind their backs. 

Vision of suburban racial utopia blurs

October 09, 2000
The last of the white pioneerfamilies who settled in biracial harmony in the unusual Bensalem neighborhood of Concord Park has moved out, leaving in "sweetsorrow" after 46 years of an idealistic experiment that somehow disintegrated.
     Warren and Betsy Swartzbeck moved into their modest suburbanhouse in 1954. They left September 15. Their neighbors, most of whom are black, are heartbroken.
     Concord Park was built after the Korean War by a civil-rightsactivist intent on creating a neighborhood with a specific racial mix: 55 percent white and 45percent black. At the time, "Negroes" were barred from every other new suburban development in the region.
     The 139 ranch houses that developer Morris Milgram tucked behindthe then-unfinished Pennsylvania Turnpike were built to prove the racists wrong.
     The grand experiment, however, dissolved under pressure from anoutside world that remains largely segregated in housing today.
     Milgram's targeted racial mix was achieved, but fewer andfewer whites bought into Concord Park as more and more blacks eventually arrived.
     The neighborhood is now about 95 percent black. 

Convention protesters claim abuse

August 05, 2000
Activists say the detention center is filled with screams, that a man was handcuffed in a crucifix-position to force him to submit to fingerprinting, and that a woman on a hunger strike writhed on the floor from lack of water and food. 
     Philadelphia police deny the accusations and say they have treated the nearly 400 protesters arrested during the Republican National Convention fairly. Civil-rights attorneys who visited the detention center said they found no evidence to confirm abuse.
     However, dozens of protesters told similar stories after their releases beginning Thursday afternoon. Some younger activists appeared visibly shaken, while even veteran protesters sounded weary and worried. 

Bush downplays split over affirmative action

August 02, 2000
George W. Bush and his campaign aides today sought to soft-pedal the sharp division over affirmative action policy between the prospective Republican presidential candidate and retired Gen. Colin Powell highlighted this week.
     Powell, one of the nation's best-known and most popular black leaders, declared in a dramatic convention speech Monday night and in a series of interviews since that he intends to press for support of affirmative action and racial preferences--wedge issues that often have been employed by conservative Republican candidates to appeal to white voters.
     To the applause of the GOP delegates, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared: "Some in our party miss no opportunity to roundly and loudly condemn affirmative action that helped a few thousand black kids get an education, but you hardly hear a whimper when it's affirmative action for lobbyists who load our federal tax code with preferences for special interests." 

Powell chides GOP over affirmative action

July 31, 2000
Colin Powell, the only black to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chided Republicans who miss no opportunity to "roundly and loudly condemn affirmative action," even as he praised George W. Bush on Monday for bridging racial divides.
      In a prime-time Republican National Convention address designed to soften the edges of the GOP image, the retired general said, "In pursuing educational reform, as well as in all other parts of his agenda for Texas, Governor Bush has reached out to all Texans – white, black, Latino, Asian, Native American."
      Powell is one of the most prominent blacks on the political scene with an appeal that crosses racial and economic lines. The Persian Gulf War commander refused Bush's entreaties for the vice presidential nomination, but has suggested he would like to be secretary of state.

Thousands risk arrest in poverty protest

July 31, 2000
Faced with thousands of marchers willing to risk arrest--including mothers with children in strollers and a squad of people in wheelchairs--police here stood aside and allowed an illegal parade down the city's main thoroughfare to carry an anti-poverty message almost to the doors of the Republican National Convention.
      Several dozen poor and homeless people in the vanguard held aloft pizza boxes painted to look like American flags and bearing messages such as "35 Million Americans Live in Poverty." They were followed by the teeming array of protesters drawn to this town to push a rainbow of causes. Today, the diverse streams of outrage all flowed together in the March for Economic Human Rights. 

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