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.

Got any medications that you don’t need any more or has expired? The Allegheny County Police want to help take them off your hands.

As part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, southwestern Pennsylvania residents can drop off their unused medications at the North Park and South Park County Police stations on Saturday.

The New Girl in Town, Vacationing for a Cause

Apr 24, 2013
Dave Bezaire & Susi Havens-Bezaire / Flickr

While many people use their vacation to get away, soak up the sun and forget about the cares of the world, others vacation for a cause, such as Habitat for Humanity. If a trip like this is in your future, travel contributor Elaine Labalme offers tips for foreign travel including visas, health/safety precautions and more.

For travel volunteerism opportunities with some Pittsburgh based groups check out:

Global Links Pittsburgh

Amizade Global Service Learning

Miranda Rights and the Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect

Apr 23, 2013
University of Pittsburgh Law School

    

A great deal of news coverage has been reported about the decision to read or not to read the Miranda Rights statement to Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. According to our legal contributor, University of Pittsburgh Law Professor David Harris, much of the coverage has been off base. He joins us to discuss what Miranda rights do, in general, and specifically how they apply to this case. We'll also talk about the current Supreme Court case, Salinas v. Texas, which begs the question, how much protection should we get from our "right to remain silent?"

A recent Supreme Court decision stated that a search warrant must be obtained before officials draw blood from people suspected of driving under the influence.

Typically, when an officer pulls over a motorist and has probable cause for arrest, the officer takes the motorist directly to hospital for a blood draw. Now, police have to get a search warrant first.  

Pittsburgh Marathon to Show Support For Boston

Apr 22, 2013

Race directors from the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Cleveland marathons – all held in May – have joined forces to provide an opportunity for their runners to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Each race will have blue wristbands inscribed with “Boston Strong.” People can purchase the bands for any donation, and all of the money will be sent directly to One Fund Boston at the conclusion of each respective race weekend.

As far as security at the Pittsburgh event, race director Patrice Matamoros said they are prepared.

For more than a year, political leaders, bar and restaurant owners and community groups had been working on plans to start pairing off-duty and on-duty officers to patrol East Carson Street.

Currently, 20 establishments along East Carson employ 22 uniformed off-duty police officers to provide door security.

Wikimedia Commons

All this week, NPR's Morning Edition will be telling the stories behind your morning cup of coffee. If you're anything like us, you take pride in your coffee cup. Show your mugs via Twitter and/or Instagram with #PghCoffee.

If Pittsburgh stopped serving coffee tomorrow, bean aficionados in Brooklyn or Seattle might not gnash their teeth or tear their hair at the loss, but the loyal patrons of this city’s coffeehouses would mount a full-on revolt.

In the midst of national tragedies this week, including the Boston Marathon bombing and the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, many people are heading to their houses of worship and their faith leaders for counsel and guidance.

With congregations of varying size, a pastor or priest may hear from numerous people. So where then do the faith leaders turn for comfort?

The answer varies from religion to religion, but is also somewhat similar. For the Pittsburgh Presbytery, pastors are offered several options.

A City on Lockdown: What Should Pittsburghers Know?

Apr 19, 2013
Pittsburgh City Emergency Plans

  In light of Friday's unprecedented lockdown in Boston, Raymond Demichiei  Deputy Director of the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security for the city of Pittsburgh explains the lockdown procedures for the city, and what plans they'll be considering for the Pittsburgh Marathon.

Where do Pittsburgh Clergy Turn in Moments of Crisis?

Apr 19, 2013
Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

  When devastating events occur like the bombings in Boston, people often turn to their faith leaders for support. But where do the faith leaders turn for guidance? 90.5 WESA reporter Deanna Garcia spoke with Pittsburgh clergy about the resources they turn to in moments of crisis.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Walking through a grove of cherry trees, petals gently riding to the ground on a spring breeze, might sound like something out of a romance novel, but it's actually happening right now in North Park in Allegheny County.

Just like the Japanese government did in Washington D.C. decades ago, a local group has given a gift of cherry trees to Pittsburgh. 

The Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) was contracted with the City of Pittsburgh almost a year ago to develop a so-called Sociable City Plan. That plan aims to improve the city’s nighttime economy while also ensuring public safety.

Several restaurant and bar owners from Pittsburgh’s South Side gathered on Wednesday to discuss progress and future steps.

Pittsburgh police responded to a report that a box labeled "pressure cooker" with a Massachusetts return address was delivered to a city office building — only to find it really was a pressure cooker, ordered by an employee.

Police Lt. Shirley Sloan said the police response Wednesday was born out of an abundance of caution in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.

"It was really tense there for a while," Sloan said.

The FBI has said Monday's blasts were caused by homemade bombs crafted using pressure cookers.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

One year ago, a group of local brewers and craft beer enthusiasts gathered with an idea — a week-long celebration of the Pittsburgh region’s craft beers. The first year was deemed a success, and now, in its second year, organizers are hoping for an even bigger showing.

“We’ve got all of Pittsburgh’s craft beer heroes here pulling out all the stops putting together the best Craft Beer Week we can put together,” said Scott Smith, owner and founder of East End Brewing.

Growing Movement

Marathon organizers across the country are examining how they can better prepare their races for an incident like the one seen this week in Boston, but much of the ground work for such a discussion was already laid in Pittsburgh following a scare at the 2010 race. 

Not long after the Pittsburgh race started that year, an abandoned microwave oven was found near the finish line, and organizers and police had to spring into action.

Pittsburgh leaders are following up on the success of two miniature water parks, known as "spray parks," by building more of the facilities to open in three city neighborhoods this summer.

After the Act 47 state financial oversight team found that the city was spending too much money on swimming pools in 2004, Pittsburgh was forced to close 13 pools. One of those reopened a few years later thanks to a nonprofit organization, but the others remained unused for years.

Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA News

As people trickled in and out of the U.S. Post Office in Squirrel Hill to mail in their taxes Monday, a small group of protesters stood outside to speak out against how the federal government spends tax dollars.

In particular, they said too much is spent on the military.

“We feel that by reducing the military budget, we could afford to put more money into healthcare, housing, mass transit, infrastructure, all those things,” said Eva Havlicsek, a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

Photo provided by the Allegheny County Jail

Fourteen years after a Vincentian Academy coach and teacher was forced to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct with basketball players, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is questioning former athletes who played for him.

David Scott Zimmerman, 46, of O’Hara is the subject of the investigation, according to one of his former athletes. He said a state investigator contacted him to verify his story.

90.5 WESA Weekend Watch

Apr 13, 2013

Each weekend, 90.5 WESA Weekend Edition host Noah Brode previews some interesting events going on in the Pittsburgh Area.

"There's this huge disconnect where both sides need each other, but we've got to find a way to get there," said US Attorney for Western PA David Hickton about the need to improve relations between residents and law enforcement.

Closing Pennsylvania's Gun Loophole

Apr 11, 2013
Don Shall / Flickr

As talks about gun legislation continue in the U.S. Senate, groups have descended on the state capitol in Harrisburg urging legislators to close a loophole in Pennsylvania's gun laws. State Reps. Steve Santarsiero and Dan Frankel join us to talk about balancing Second Amendment rights with public safety.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Several dozen Rivers Casino workers, elected officials, union representatives and clergy members gathered on the North Shore Thursday to call on the casino management to allow employees to organize.

“We’re worried about some of the backlash, but at the same time we feel protected – we have a lot of community support," said Lisa Washington, a server at the casino’s Grandview Buffet. "We have a lot of support from our congressmen. We know we’re in for a long fight, but we’re ready.”

On Saturday morning, construction will begin on a new playground in Homewood.

That same afternoon, according to KaBOOM! spokesman Mike Vietti, the playground will be ready to use.

“We’re going to start off with a kickoff ceremony at about 8:30 in the morning, and then by 2:30 in the afternoon, we’re going to wrap things up in time for a ribbon cutting ceremony,” he said. “So, start to finish, all in the span of about six or seven hours.”

KaBOOM! is a nonprofit that builds playgrounds for kids who don’t have easy access to them.

Pittsburgh police say an officer is in surgery after being shot in the shoulder while pursuing a suspect, who was also shot by police.

A police spokeswoman, Officer Diane Richard, says the officer is expected to recover.

Investigators say the shooting happened around 1:30 a.m. Thursday in the city's Homewood section when two officers on patrol when saw a car speed by.

CharlieBatch.com

Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch talks about winning the Byron "Whizzer" White Award, an honor given by the NFL Players Association for his work in the community and lending more than just his name to the foundations he works with. Batch started his Best of the Batch Foundation 12 years ago, fulfilling a promise he made after his younger sister, Danyl Settles was shot and killed in the crossfire between rival gangs in their Homewood neighborhood.  

A federal grand jury has indicted a Clarion County man on charges of interstate transportation of a minor for the purpose of engaging in unlawful sexual activity.

U.S. Attorney for Western PA David Hickton said 31-year-old Joshua D. Baker of Leeper is also charged with travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a 13-year-old female. The indictment followed an investigation by the FBI and Clarion County authorities.

Photo courtesy of Mike Hare

Through all the chaos and sorrow that swept through Joplin, Mo., after a devastating tornado in 2011, one man stood out.

David Scott Zimmerman of O’Hara near Pittsburgh consoled teens on Facebook, shipped T-shirts to boys who needed clothing, and prodded a family to form a youth group in honor of their son, who died in the storm.

“He put himself out there for us,” said Shannon Hare, whose stepson, Lantz Hare, 16, was killed in the tornado. “We trusted him.”

Michael and Shannon Hare started the youth group, and Zimmerman helped.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

During the lunch hour Tuesday, a crowd gathered at Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh to mark Equal Payday. It’s a day on which rallies are held across the country to bring attention to the fact that women still make less money than men.

State Child Protection Website

Audio Pending...

Last summer, our content partner Public Source investigated allegations of sexual abuse against a former high school English teacher and coach, David Scott Zimmerman. The story brought up questions of how abusive behavior goes unreported in schools. Now, with a package of 16 bills on child abuse in the legislature and the results of a statewide task force on child protection, we take a look at the latest with the Zimmerman case and talk about ways to recognize the warning signs of potential sexual abuse. How do you teach your kids to speak up on questionable behaviors? And what questions should parents be asking before they let another adult spend time with their child? Joining us for the discussion, Public Source investigative reporter Bill Heltzel  and Dr. Rachel Berger, a Pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and member of the statewide task force on child abuse.

90.5 WESA's Weekend Edition host Noah Brode takes a closer look at some interesting events going on in the Pittsburgh area this weekend:

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