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.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

For the next few weeks, law enforcement officials throughout the commonwealth will be stepping up enforcement of the state’s seat belt law. It’s an effort to get more people to buckle up.

90.5 WESA

The Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association has announced the winning stations in the 2012 Pennsylvania Associated Press News Awards contest.

The awards, which were presented at a PAPBA banquet over the weekend in Harrisburg, recognize outstanding broadcast journalism efforts by AP member radio and television stations, cable television and networks in Pennsylvania.

An empty lot in the Wilson neighborhood of Clairton will be transformed into a playground this weekend.

More than 200 volunteers will gather in Clairton Saturday to build a playground designed entirely by local children.

Volunteers from the Clairton Fire Department, the Unity Group of Clairton, local residents and organizers from KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit, are getting together to build the playground in just one day.

Wayde Killmeyer, superintendent of the Clairton City School District, said the new playground is long overdue.

100 Years of Meeting Under the Kaufmann's Clock

May 17, 2013

"Meet me under Kaufmann's Clock" has been said for decades — 10 to be exact — by friends, families and lovers as a rendezvous in downtown Pittsburgh.

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the installation of the clock on the department store at Fifth and Smithfield.

While Kaufmann's is gone, Macy's made sure it kept the Pittsburgh icon when it acquired the department store chain. On Friday dozens of people with special memories of "meeting under the clock" gathered to mark the centennial.

A Dialogue On The Death Penalty With Sister Helen Prejean

May 16, 2013
Irish Jesuits / Flickr

  Sister Helen Prejean, has been an advocate for the abolishment of the death penalty, and a spiritual advisor for death row inmates and their families for decades.

Her bestselling book, Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States inspired an Oscar nominated film of the same name. This week, Sister Helen comes to Pittsburgh's Rodef Shalom Congregation to speak about capital punishment and the nation's criminal justice system.

The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society has landed a $30,000 grant to save more cats'  lives.

The WPHS is the second shelter in the nation to be a part of the Purina Cat Chow “50 Years. 50 Shelters.” program. The shelter will use the grant from the pet food company to improve its cat adoption room and establish a “Cat Crisis Center” to treat mild to moderately ill animals.

Gretchen Fieser, director of public relations for the WPHS, said the creation of the Cat Crisis Center will not only save animals lives, but also will help increase the number of adoptions.

Homewood Cemetery Trees Get a Second Chance at Life

May 14, 2013
Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

On a recent Saturday morning, artists from around the region gathered at Homewood Cemetery to turn chopped-down trees into mushrooms.

State College artist Ed Crow and his wife Janise sculpted a small morel mushroom and transformed a large three-pronged piece of wood into three morel mushrooms. This was one of several public events surrounding the so-called reGenerations project.

“ReGenerations is really the cemetery engaging with the arts community here in Pittsburgh to make arts and crafts from the trees we’re salvaging,” said project director Kenn Thomas. 

Laurence Leamer / Leamer.com

In April of 2010,  29 coal miners were killed in an explosion at Massey Energy's Upper Big branch Mine in West Virginia. It was the worst U.S. coal mining disaster since 1970.

In March of this year a former Massey Energy official accused Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, of conspiring and plotting to hide safety violations from federal safety inspectors. And that was just the tip

of the iceberg.

Perhaps you’ve heard of a gallery crawl, or even a bar crawl. Well, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is sponsoring a “sketch crawl” all throughout downtown Pittsburgh on Saturday. Just bring all the art supplies you need and show up at the Cultural Trust’s Education Center on 805 Liberty Avenue at 10:00 a.m. Accomplished sketch artist Rick Antolic will take participants to various locations throughout the Cultural District, helping with the sketches along the way.

On May 15, 1892, bookkeeper, amateur photographer and bicycle enthusiast Frank Lenz set off on his bike along rail lines in Pittsburgh. He was headed east to New York City on the first leg of his journey to cycle around the world.

More than a century later, cyclists in Pittsburgh will gather Saturday morning at the Pump House in Homestead. They are not headed for New York but rather Duquesne. And the supplies they will be carrying are food donations destined for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.  

Pittsburgh's bomb squad has been busy overnight responding to three reports of suspicious devices found along city streets that turned out to be loss-prevention devices, perhaps discarded as shoplifters drove away.

The first call came in just after 11 p.m. Thursday, and two more were reported Friday morning.

The plastic devices, which are equipped to beep and which hang from retail products by a small wire, were found wrapped in foil — which, at first, made them appear more suspicious.

Leaders hope a new commission will reduce violence and promote positive mental health in Allegheny County.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he formed the Public Health Commission on Preventing Gun Violence and Promoting Community Mental Health upon request of state Rep. Ed Gainey of the 24th Legislative District.

“We’re going to be focused on making sure we look at the best practices, the best ideas, implement them in our community and doing all that we have to do to make sure that we reduce and eliminate the violence in our neighborhood,” Gainey said.  

Wexford Company on Target with Dog Food Trend

May 7, 2013
Emily Farah/90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh area start-up company caught on to the changing trend in the dog food industry.  

Last year, Americans spent 20.6 billion dollars on dog food.  This year, it’s estimated that amount will increase to 21.2 billion.  The nation's pet industry has seen an upward climb in sales for two decades.

During the most recent recession from 2007 to 2009, Americans cut back on luxury goods, like vacations or H-D T.V.s but actually spent more on pet products.

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.

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