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.

Via Tsuji / Flickr

This Wednesday, Pittsburgh City Council votes on legislation written in reaction to the tragic death of Ka’Sandra Wade. Police responded to Ka'Sandra's 911 call on the night of December 31st, 2012. But they left her home when her boyfriend came to the window and told them that everything was alright. That night Ka'Sandra's boyfriend killed her and later killed himself. The legislation up for a vote this week would impact the way police respond to domestic violence calls.

The Beaver County Borough of Aliquippa of has grappled with violence for decades, though its mayor says things are getting better. In an effort to further reduce violence, Mayor Dwan Walker along with community and faith leaders called on state lawmakers Friday to support stronger background checks for gun sales.

Western PA Police Officer Killed in Car Chase

May 3, 2013

A Shenango Township police officer has been killed when a car being chased by state police crashed into the township officer's cruiser, killing him and seriously injuring another officer who was driving.

State police released the name of officer William J. "Jerry" McCarthy IV as the victim.

5 Things to Know for the Pittsburgh Marathon

May 2, 2013
delayedneutron / Flickr

Some 30,000 runners are expected to hit the streets in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday. Whether you're a runner, a spectator or just someone who needs to navigate the city this weekend, here's some key things to know:

Behind the Scenes: WESA's Spring Member Campaign

May 2, 2013
Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

It's that time of year. Flowers are blooming, days are warming and phones are ringing at 90.5 WESA's studios in South Side Pittsburgh. It's time for the WESA Spring Member Campaign. From May 2 through May 11, you'll hear us on air asking for your support. Here's a glimpse behind the scenes. Want to share why you donate to WESA? Send us a note at web@wesa.fm or post to social media with #PledgeWESA.
 

Pittsburgh versus Cleveland: The initial thought is the Steelers versus the Browns or the Carnegie Museum versus the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but one group wants you to think biking.

The two cities will square off for the title of “Rustbelt Champion” as a mini-competition within the National Bike Challenge.

How will the winner be determined? By registering more riders and logging more miles than the opponent.

Medical professionals usually expect heat-related injuries, heart problems or sprains at the Pittsburgh Marathon. But following the bombings at the Boston Marathon, plans have been made for more extensive medical care.

There will be 400 medical professional volunteers from UPMC, including physicians, nurses and athletic trainers, on hand. That's about a hundred more than last year.

Tightening Security for the Pittsburgh Marathon

Apr 30, 2013
Deanna Garcia / 90.5/WESA

  Less than three weeks after the Boston Marathon bombing, Pittsburgh will stage its own annual 26.2 mile event. While Pittsburgh Marathon officials say security has been beefed up since a bomb scare during the 2010 race, Public Safety Director Michael Huss joins us to discuss other plans in the works to secure the event and what racers and spectators can expect on May 5th.

TALKPGH Pittsburgh's First Mobile Talk Show

Apr 30, 2013
Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

  Throughout the month of April, an odd looking truck serving as a mobile talk show set drove to each of the Pittsburgh's 90 neighborhoods to interview residents.  TALKPGH is a collection of stories and opinions structured like a show. It's part of PLANPGH, Pittsburgh's comprehensive game plan for growth. Assistant Producer Nina Sarnelle and Pittsburgh Public Art Manager Morton Brown talk about the common threads they found, and the challenges of recording a mobile talk show on the streets of Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Opera is continuing its production of “La cenerentola,” or “Cinderella,” this weekend. With music by Gioachino Rossini, this opera tells the classic fairy tale story in which Cinderella must overcome an abusive step-family with the help of a fairy godmother to fall in love with a handsome prince. However, this production of Cinderella has a special ending that celebrates the power of true goodness. Tonight’s performance begins at 8:00 at the Benedum Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

$1.5 Million Grant to Expand YMCA’s Reach

Apr 25, 2013

The YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh has received a $1.5 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

The grant will enable the organization to offer increased services at its five urban branches: Hazelwood, Hill District, Hilltop, Homewood-Brushton and McKeesport.

delayedneutron / Flickr

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, cities across the U.S., including Pittsburgh, are taking a hard look at security for marathons.

City officials said Thursday that the security plan for the Pittsburgh Marathon, scheduled for May 5, is ever-evolving. One certainty is that spectators and runners will see more uniformed officers patrolling.

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.

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