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.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

At a press conference on Monday, Mayor Bill Peduto acknowledged efforts by Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay to restore relationships between officers and the communities they serve since his hiring in in 2014, but said police need to work a lot harder to achieve the same stasis within their own bureau. 

The Harsh Numbers Behind Women’s Pay Inequality In Pennsylvania

Aug 29, 2016
Senate Democrats / Flickr

 

Pennsylvania continues to be one of the worst states in the nation for a woman seeking equal pay.

Brad Larrison / NewsWorks

 

Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the last six presidential elections. But this election season, analysts say it's possible that the state will swing Republican. 

Masked Motorcycle Marauders Terrorize People In York

Aug 26, 2016
Tammy J. Mankey / WITF

Groups of masked teens have been terrorizing York over the summer months, recklessly riding dirt bikes and ATVs through traffic, harassing other motorists and in one case, disrupting a charity softball tournament, according to police and several witnesses and victims.

"These individuals are a nuisance, they're causing safety hazards and destroying the quality of life for the individuals who live in the city's neighborhoods," York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said Thursday. He added that police suspect most of the bikes are stolen, and none of them are street legal.

Nonbelievers Sue Over Pennsylvania House's Opening Prayers

Aug 25, 2016
Ken Marshall / Flickr

A group of people who don't believe in God are challenging the way prayers are handled before sessions of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Harrisburg federal court says nonbelievers are treated like a disfavored minority who can be discriminated against, and that House officials denied their requests to make an opening invocation.

Five people and three organizations are suing House Speaker Mike Turzai, the parliamentarian and five lawmakers.

Epicast Network

When Pittsburgh comedian Ed Bailey opened for headliner Tony Rock at Pittsburgh’s Improv comedy club last Friday, his polished set landed plenty of laughs – until he mentioned his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio

Reed Saxon / AP

 

Local courts that jail poor defendants because they can't afford to pay bail are unlawfully discriminating against the poor, federal attorneys say in a legal brief in a Georgia lawsuit.

The U.S. Justice Department says such policies are unconstitutional.

The federal brief was filed Thursday with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the lawsuit of a north Georgia man who spent six days in jail in the city of Calhoun because he couldn't afford $160 bail following his arrest on a misdemeanor charge.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

A grocery store in Pennsylvania has become the first since Prohibition to sell wine in the state.

A Giant Eagle store in Robinson Township will sell wine beginning Friday. Only state-owned liquor stores had been allowed to sell wine since the nationwide constitutional ban on alcohol that lasted from 1920 to 1933.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports store officials and Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai plan a ceremonial Champagne toast to mark the occasion.

How To Check Safety Records For Rides In PA Amusement Parks

Aug 17, 2016
Gene J. Puskar / AP

 

A fun day in the sun turned to inexplicable horror last week when a freckled 10-year-old boy who loved soccer was decapitated on the world’s largest water slide in Kansas City.

Katie Meyer / WITF

The commonwealth's newly-expanded liquor law is ramping up.

The law went into effect Monday, and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is already ushering in a few of the first concrete changes.

At the grand opening of a new Fine Wine and Good Spirits store in York County, the PLCB announced lottery tickets will now be sold at 300 state stores.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Body cameras have a way of rapidly de-escalating situations, according to Chief Jeff Besong, the head of Point Park University's Department of Public Safety.

One of his officers recently approached a family in the midst of an argument on the Boulevard of the Allies, and the adult man in the group began swearing at him. As soon as the officer informed the man he was being recorded on a body camera, the profanity ceased, Besong said.

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.

Can McKees Rocks Share In Pittsburgh's Success?

Aug 5, 2016
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. 

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