Identity & Justice

The identity and justice desk explores how the makeup of the Pittsburgh community is changing, and digs into issues of diversity and equity.

Theresa Stigale / EOTS Flickr Group

Frank Rizzo, the outspoken former police commissioner and mayor, is seen as a hard-nosed law-and-order figure by some.

But to Black Lives Matter activists in Philadelphia, Rizzo's time in public office was marked by violent crackdowns on black activists and statements that many viewed as racist.

Kris Knieriem / Hightail

Volunteers painted a vibrant mural at Propel Pitcairn charter school Wednesday in hopes of encouraging students to read more.

 Artist Lynne Mack said she hopes her colorful work, featuring bright-eyed animals gathering books, will inspire kids to read.

“Everything I do, I make gender neutral so that it appeals to both boys and girls,” she said. “They get so excited, they’ll touch it and point to (the animals). They just get so excited about seeing it.”

The mural is on a wall near the entrance to a first grade classroom, so students in all grades will walk past it.

Veterans Use Glass Art To Connect With Kids

Aug 11, 2016
Katie Zilcosky / 90.5 WESA

    

U.S. Military members develop many skills while serving, but those skills don’t always translate easily into civilian life.

Leadership Pittsburgh’s Community Leadership Course for Veterans tries to use those skills to benefit organizations in and around the Steel City.

“They’re trying to bridge veterans to the community to use their resources and also reintroduce veterans who were in the service for a number of years back to the Pittsburgh region,” said Chris Kowalczyk, a U.S. Army veteran.

Alex Loy / Twitter

  The city is increasing police patrols and bringing back an advisory council to try to prevent violence among rowdy teens, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said Tuesday.

Police made more than a half dozen arrests after several groups of youths gathered Sunday night in Pittsburgh, the final day of the Three Rivers Regatta.

Witnesses said the teens stopped traffic, jumped on vehicles and knocked into bystanders.

Mt. Lebanon’s Leah Smith Brings Home Olympic Gold

Aug 8, 2016
Lee Jin-man / AP

Leah Smith was not necessarily looking to set any records in the Olympic 4x200m freestyle relay in Rio. As she swam the second leg last night at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium, Smith realized her job was to keep the United States within striking distance of Australia and China, close enough to give the world’s best female swimmer, Katie Ledecky, a chance to pull ahead of the competition in the anchor leg. And that’s exactly what happened.

The Americans finished the race in 7:43.03, good for the gold medal, Smith’s first of the Olympics.

Sue Seecof / Flickr

Pennsylvania's alcohol regulators are taking applications for permits under the expanded sales of booze approved by the Legislature and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf earlier this summer.

The Liquor Control Board said the law that went into effect Monday lets about 11,000 businesses that currently have what's called restaurant or hotel licenses, which let them sell beer to go, apply for permission to also sell takeout wine.

Eating place licenses that sell beer to go, typically pizza shops or similar establishments, can apply to upgrade to a restaurant license.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

When Nancy Lee opened women’s resale store WearWoof in 2013, she contemplated getting a store cat. She fell in love with Dolly at a local PetSmart, but noticed a lump on the 10-year-old tabby when she picked her up.

Dolly had a hernia.

“I just felt like she was a part of my story, and I was a part of her story now,” Lee said.

Dolly, now healthy, was a natural fit for the North Hills shop, but Lee thought she would wield even more influence in another position: Cat President of the United States.

Body Exhumed From Pauper's Grave Is Girl Missing Since 1967

Aug 5, 2016
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

 

 

DNA tests show that a body exhumed from a pauper's grave last fall is almost certainly that of a 13-year-old Pittsburgh girl last seen in 1967, state police said Thursday.

The badly decomposed body was found in a landfill in Salem Township, Westmoreland County in September 1967, not long after Teala Patricia Thompson was last seen.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

 

Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Regatta returns to the city Friday through Sunday after river debris caused by heavy rains prompted its cancelation last July.

Justin Wier / 90.5 WESA

McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania is just 15 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. It has a rich history. The first American Eagle Outfitters opened there in 1912. A native American burial mound in the borough is the earliest place of human habitation in the region. But while Pittsburgh is experiencing a renaissance, the blue-collar borough is still struggling to get back on track. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Preservation Pittsburgh is asking City Council to designate three natural springs as historic landmarks. Members are advocating for Howe Springs in Shadyside, Snyder (Catahecassa) Spring in Schenley Park and the Spring in Spring Hill (Voegtly Spring).

Pittsburgh Bureau of Police / Facebook

Neighborhoods around Pittsburgh are preparing for National Night Out, an event focused on building positive community and police relations.

Aggie Brose, Deputy Director of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, said organizers in those communities plan to hand out safety essentials, in addition to fostering community building.

“We’re gonna have a disc jockey, there will be face painting and lots of other children’s activities,” she said. “We’re going to be giving out light bulbs, to light up their porches and safety locks for their guns.”

Pittsbrugh VegFest

VegFest returns to Pittsburgh on Saturday, with local businesses and enthusiasts sharing information about living a vegan lifestyle.

Though, non-vegans are encouraged to check out the event too, which starts at 11 a.m. at Allegheny Commons Park East on the North Side. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Two men charged with ambushing a suburban Pittsburgh cookout and killing five adults and an unborn child face a hearing to determine whether they'll stand trial.

Cheron Shelton, 29, and Robert Thomas, 27, face six counts of criminal homicide and other charges in the March 9 shooting in Wilkinsburg.

Herry Lawford / Flickr

Whole Foods Market plans to open a new store two blocks from its Centre Avenue building.

Its chosen location is the site of East Liberty’s Penn Plaza apartments, a large affordable housing complex that's in the process of being demolished. The building’s owner drew vocal opposition from the community and local lawmakers last year after deciding to evict tenants in favor of redevelopment. 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

  The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is defending its newly hired executive director, a county administrator from Virginia who reportedly parted ways from a similar post in South Carolina under less-than-ideal circumstances.

Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr

Pittsburgh voters will decide whether the city should increase its realty transfer tax from 2 percent to 3 percent in order to fill a trust fund that would pay for affordable housing initiatives across the city, according to the organizers of a petition drive.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Residents of the Hill District would have a much easier time walking or biking to downtown Pittsburgh after the construction of a proposed three-acre park with pathways on a platform raised overtop of I-579 in the Lower Hill.

The project, which has already undergone a year-long planning and design process, will be ready for construction after the federal government releases $19 million in grant funding for the effort this October, officials announced Tuesday.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Faced with a citation and the threat of losing their liquor license for noise violations, the owners of James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy are crowdsourcing to afford costly soundproofing renovations this summer. 

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Standing on the corner of Liberty Avenue and Wood Street, Joe Kennedy held a paper sign Thursday. It read, “I am a human being.”

“Systems change when change is demanded, and I’m here to demand change,” said Kennedy, 48. “It is unacceptable that in a society that calls itself the land of the free and the home of the brave, black men are being gun downed at taxpayer expense by law enforcement.”

Mandela Washington Fellows / Facebook

Duquesne University is hosting 25 African young professionals this summer as part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. The initiative seeks to provide leadership training to young professionals in Sub-Saharan Africa.

David Goehring / flickr

While traveling from Wyoming to New York City, Winifred Gallagher was struck by the vast size of the United States. The trip inspired her to write about the agency fondly remembered for traversing the length of the country delivering correspondence: the post office.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Fourteen Pittsburgh Police officers trained to detect implicit bias and procedural justice interventions as part of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice will now be tasked with passing along that information to fellow officers.

Christina Spicuzza / flickr

Cleveland and Philadelphia, our neighbors to the north and east, will be hosting the Republican and Democratic conventions respectively. If you traveling to those cities and want to enjoy them beyond the political trappings of the convention centers travel and food contributor Elaine Labalme joins us with suggestions for seeing the cities.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Local elected officials gathered in Bloomfield on Monday to celebrate the opening of the Penn Mathilda Apartments, a new affordable housing development meant to keep low-income residents in the East End, especially as gentrification pushes up rent payments.

PA Cities Vary In Response To Firearm Ordinance Rulings, Legislative Activity

Jul 18, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

 

Allentown City Council is looking at reinstating as many as three ordinances previously repealed to avoid lawsuits facilitated by Act 192. 

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

For about a decade after he retired from 26 years of service in the U.S. Army in 2006, Larry Debar didn’t think he needed a service dog to help him in his civilian life in Homer City.

“I thought the dog would benefit someone else other than me,” Debar said.

But seeing a working dog in action on a trip to Florida earlier this year started to change Debar’s mind. At the urging of his wife, Holly, he soon dropped off an application for a free service dog through the Guardian Angels nonprofit program in Williston, Fla.

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

When Conner Hagins was 9 years old, his father had a double bypass surgery.

While recovering, his father was given a teddy bear to hold against his chest while coughing or sneezing in order to help protect his chest wounds. But it was only cardiac surgery patients who were given teddy bears, Hagins found.

“From that moment it was almost a light bulb idea,” Hagins said.

Gage Skidmore / Wikipedia

The hacktivist group Anonymous is calling for a National Day of Rage protests in cities across America today. This is being done in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The Pittsburgh protest is scheduled to take place this evening at 7pm at the City County Building.  Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman joins us to talk about how things have become so tense that Tim Scott,  a conservative senator from South Carolina, has broken ranks to express his concerns about policing.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is sending its five sand tiger sharks to a Florida marine park, with the goal of mating them.

But before that can happen, the zoo has the task of transporting the large creatures to Marineland of Florida, a park operated by the Georgia Aquarium, in mid-August. Curator of Aquatic life for the PPG Aquarium Dwayne Biggs said it’s no easy job.

“Transporting a 400-pound Sand Tiger Shark is a big effort,” he said.

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