Philadelphia, PA

GOP unveils platform tougher on gay rights

July 29, 2000
The Republican platform committee on Saturday approved the principles the party will take into the election after George W. Bush fought off a conservative challenge to his centerpiece education plan.
      The committee restored Bush's education agenda, which had been stripped by a panel a day earlier, after a lobbying blitz that involved the candidate himself.
      The right toughened language against gay rights and family planning counseling for teens while giving the document more of an anti-government tint than it had when platform leaders wrote a first version.
      "It's a little more conservative than what we drafted," Thompson said. "But our party is a conservative party."
      Delegates stood firm against an attempt to weaken or abandon GOP policy against gays in the military, despite complaints by some Republicans that the stance was "gratuitous discrimination," as one put it.

Rallies oppose and back Philadelphia cops

July 23, 2000
Black clergy leaders rallied at a church Sunday evening to criticize the police beating of a carjacking suspect that was captured on videotape. Earlier in the day, several hundred people gathered at City Hall in a show of support for police. 
    "This is it," Rev. Robert Shine, vice president of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and vicinity, told about 600 people gathered in Morris Brown A.M.E. church. "We've taken all we can take. From henceforth the movement has begun." 
    Shine also criticized white clergy members for not denouncing abuses such as the violent arrest of Thomas Jones, which drew national attention after a television station helicopter videotaped officers kicking and punching him after a chase and shootout on July 12.

NAACP names police who beat suspect

July 21, 2000
A local NAACP leader on Friday named four officers he says were involved in last week's videotaped beating of a black suspect, and he threatened to name 18 more if officials don't do it first. 
    J. Whyatt Mondesire said the officers were identified on the television news crew's video by several current and former officers. 
    Two of the four officers he identified are black and two are white. Mondesire has said he does not believe the incident was fueled by racism. 
    "The public should know who is among the most lawless of the lawmen," Mondesire, president of the NAACP's Philadelphia chapter, said at a news conference Friday with the family of the suspect, Thomas Jones. "The entire force is not guilty of brutality. These men are." 

Tape: Philly officers beat suspect

July 13, 2000
The U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation Thursday of the videotaped beating of a black suspect by police officers following a stolen car chase and shootout.
      A dozen officers – black and white – were involved in Wednesday's beating of Thomas Jones, 30.
      The confrontation was captured by videotape from a news helicopter and broadcast around the nation, reminiscent of the 1991 Rodney King case that ignited rioting in Los Angeles after four white officers were acquitted of state charges. Two of the LAPD officers were eventually convicted of federal civil rights charges.

In survey, Pa. gays report more bias

July 11, 2000
Pennsylvania doesn't shoulder the notoriety of a brutal anti-gay crime such as the murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming two years ago.
     But a wide range of discrimination - from verbal taunts to refusal of housing - continues to plague gays and lesbians in Philadelphia and across the state, a new study reveals.
     According to a survey of more than 3,000 gay men and lesbians in Pennsylvania, a third of whom live in Philadelphia, incidents of anti-gay harassment and discrimination remained fairly constant in the last eight years, while anti-gay violence has decreased slightly.
     The study was released yesterday by the Philadelphia Lesbian and Gay Task Force. 

Transsexual inmates challenge judicial system

July 07, 2000
It's a personal odyssey that has taken him from his given name - James Elliot Wolfe - to the one he legally adopted and prefers - Jessica Elaine Wolfe - to the gender-neutral DB0954 of Pennsylvania's prison system.
      And the name changes are the least of it.
      Wolfe, 36, survived a self-destructive youth and an uneasy eight-year relationship with a woman who bore him three children before he acknowledged the source of his emotional problems: He is transsexual, a woman trapped in a man's body.
      Now, four years after he began taking female hormones to prepare for sex-change surgery, Wolfe is again pushing the limits of convention - and the law.
      Imprisoned since March 1996 after pleading guilty to raping an 8-year-old girl (his appeal says he confessed under duress), Wolfe is suing state prison officials for stopping his hormone treatment. He contends that it is "cruel and unusual punishment," violating the Constitution's Eighth Amendment.
      His case nears trial at a time when federal judges are taking a closer look at how transsexuals' needs fit into the case law governing inmate medical care.

'Sold' signs now allowed on houses in Philly

May 04, 2000
A federal judge has struck down a city ordinance born in the tumult of the civil rights era that banned "Sold" signs from properties. 
     "We couldn't be more pleased. We've been trying to get this for years," said Geraldine Cooke, executive vice president of the Greater
Philadelphia Association of Realtors. 
      The 1,500-member group filed suit in March after a five-year effort to repeal the law died in the City Council in December. Then-City Solicitor Stephanie Franklin-Suber said at the time the law was unconstitutional. 
     On Friday, U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn Jr. approved a joint
motion by the Realtor group and the city solicitor asking that the law be
struck down. 
     The ordinance was enacted in 1970 at a time when city leaders feared "white flight" from neighborhoods and unscrupulous real estate agents were pitching "Sold" signs to spread alarm and generate quick sales. 
     Philadelphia was one of several cities to take such action to slow the flight of white residents who feared falling property values as their
neighborhoods became integrated. 

Judge hears evidence in Jouhari case

April 19, 2000
Bonnie Jouhari, who once investigated cross-burnings and Klan rallies as a human-rights worker in Reading, went to federal court yesterday to confront the man who in 1998 caused her to flee the state with her daughter and what belongings she could pack into her car.
      He didn't show up.
      The man is Ryan Wilson, a reputed white supremacist from Fishtown who allegedly threatened on his hate group's Web site to hang Jouhari "from the nearest tree or lamp post." He could not be reached for comment yesterday.
      In January, federal housing authorities filed an unprecedented civil action against Wilson. It was believed to be the first time a federal agency had acted against a known Internet hate-site operator.
      This was Jouhari's first time back in Pennsylvania. Jouhari, 43, and her daughter, Danielle Horton, 18, checked into a Center City hotel under false names, and the courtroom where they were to appear was changed at the eleventh hour.
      Yesterday morning, Philadelphia police escorted them to U.S. District Court for a three-day hearing to determine how much in monetary damages, if any, Wilson and his hate organization, ALPHA HQ, must pay Jouhari. She is seeking $1.1 million.

Judge to PHA: More accessible units needed

April 17, 2000
In a landmark decision that is likely to have a significant impact on public housing authorities across the country, the federal district court in Philadelphia has issued the first ruling in the country finding that federal law requires that 5 percent of a public housing agency's dwelling units must be made accessible to people with mobility impairments. 
     The court found that the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) failed in its duty to make adequate numbers of housing units accessible to people with mobility disabilities when it was spending millions of dollars essentially rebuilding hundreds of units over the past few years.

New complaint filed in NCAA race suit

February 29, 2000
Attorneys for four black athletes whose racial discrimination lawsuit against the NCAA was overturned by an appeals court have filed a new complaint regarding the use of test scores to determine freshmen eligibility.
    Instead of taking their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as many expected, the plaintiffs' lawyers filed a motion to amend their complaint in an attempt to correct flaws in their argument cited by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
    ``There's more than one way to prove discrimination,'' plaintiffs' lawyer Andre Dennis said Tuesday. ``This time, we're confident we can prove that the NCAA has impermissibly used race as a discriminatory factor and has acted with deliberate indifference by continuing to maintain Proposition 16.'' 


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