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.

Nicole Fallert / 90.5 WESA

A federal gun control measure introduced Monday with the intention of preventing hate crimes became unexpectedly timely in the aftermath of a deadly mass shooting Sunday morning at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) said he’d been working on the legislation for months and had planned to introduce it later this week, but decided to submit it Monday after the attack by an ISIS-pledged man in Florida claimed at least 49 lives at the Pulse nightclub.

Antonio Licon / 91.3 WYEP

The shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning didn’t deter the celebrations in Pittsburgh. The city’s annual Pride parade stepped off at noon followed by Pride Fest downtown.

Crowds started gathering more than an hour before start time, and many people said while they were sad and nervous, they did not want to stay home.

Brandon Glesbrecht / Flickr

The Pittsburgh Penguins are one game from clinching the Stanley Cup. And though city officials haven’t planned a victory parade, they are preparing for a potential win.

“Public works has been out there (Wednesday and Thursday) removing sofas and upholstery furniture, such as sofas and chairs, mainly in the open area,” said Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa.

A Pittsburgh city ordinance allows public works officials to remove some kinds of furniture from people’s porches and yards, so that they aren’t used in certain types of celebration.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Gardening can be expensive. Buying or renting tools for turning the soil, buying vegetable starts or investing in fancy lighting systems to start seeds at home, buying soil, compost and mulch – it all adds up.

But growing food at home doesn’t have to break the bank, said Jeremy Fleishman, coordinator of Grow Pittsburgh’s Garden Resource Center in Larimer.

User Fabio / Flickr

As Pittsburgh Pride Week kicks off, equality is on the minds of many. 

Nationwide, an individual can be fired for his or her sexual orientation or gender identification, and there is no federal protection. Pennsylvania is one of 28 states that does not have laws preventing discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

The idea that pit bulls aren't friendly is one that Hello Bully founder Daisy Balawejde has worked for more than a decade to squash.

“When people meet pit bulls, they’re always like, ‘Oh my gosh, this one’s so nice,’" she said. “That’s the pit bull, that’s the actual dog.” 

Hello Bully is a nonprofit rescue center that retrains pit bulls used in dog fighting and transforms them into family pets.

Balawejde started the rescue in 2005 and has recovered more than 1,500 dogs since then.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Stanley Cup chase has prompted a little friendly fire between Steel City and San José institutions.

Brett Levin / Flickr

 

Medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, but a lot of regulations have to be implemented before the system is completely set up. Parents who want to help their children with serious illnesses are the first priority for the state Health Department.

Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy says temporary rules for out-of-state purchases will be ready by next month.

Parents will be allowed to bring medical marijuana back to Pennsylvania if their child has one of 17 serious medical conditions.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania parents will soon have to keep their children in rear-facing car seats until they are 2 years old or until they outgrow the height and weight limits of the seats.

Alan Levine / Flickr

 

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board granted nine more beer sales licenses to gas stations on Wednesday, including three in Western Pennsylvania. 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh man's lawyer says his client has accepted a $125,000 settlement more than six years after the man — who is black — says three white police officers wrongfully arrested him and then beat him.

Attorney Joel Sansone says his 24-year-old client, Jordan Miles, decided to end the litigation and put the events behind him. Miles wasn't immediately available to comment.

City council plans to take up legislation on the proposed settlement on Tuesday. A spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto says the deal was reached during federal mediation.

Brad Larrison / NewsWorks

 

Tommy Joshua was working in the garden when a guy from his neighborhood rode by on a bike and gave him some bad news.

"Some dude, some like arbitrary man," Joshua said, "told me straight up, 'Yo dog, they got a plan to like, take this whole jawn over. You're doing all this in vain.'"

How Long Will Philadelphia Hang Onto Its Spot As America’s Fifth Largest City?

May 23, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

 

When the United States conducted its first national census in 1790, Philadelphia was the second largest city (after New York) in the country, boasting 28,522 people. 

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

More than 200 people pedaled out to Bike Pittsburgh's city-wide celebration of national Bike to Work Day on Friday. 

The Lawrenceville-based nonprofit coordinated coffee meet-ups and breakfast stations across the city. 

Megan Fair / 90.5 WESA

For many, Uber is the go to app for a quick ride to the ballgame or the bar. But Thursday, drivers spent the day delivering curbside cuddles.

Pittsburghers were offered $30 for a 15-minute visit from Western Pennsylvania Humane Society puppies between  11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Golden retriever mix Boudin and lab mix Betty gave snuggly sneak peaks early Thursday outside the City-County Building.

“They’re, like, so soft and squishy and cuddly,” Ashley Robinson, city clerk secretary, said cuddling Boudin. “I feel like I’m a little kid now.”

A grand jury is recommending no criminal charges against officials in a western Pennsylvania school district where two teachers have already been convicted of having sex with students, and two more face related charges.

The 100-page grand jury report issued by the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office says the Plum Borough School District had "systematic failures to protect students" but that no school official broke laws requiring police to be notified of teacher-sex allegations.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Paramedics and emergency medical technicians want Pittsburghers to know they do a lot more than ride around in an ambulance.

To show off what they do, local emergency responders displayed some of their equipment and services in Market Square Monday as a part of National EMS Week.

“A lot of times on major incidents ambulances come and go before there’s any attention,” said paramedic Crew Chief Jim Dlotowski. “A lot of paramedics live in the background, and even sometimes shy away from attention, but EMS week, that celebrates that career choice.”

Pedro Ribeiro Simoes / Flickr

 

Allegheny County health officials want to help the region’s homeless youth – but they aren’t sure how many live here.  

A report from the county’s Department of Human Services conducted earlier this year found 1,156 homeless adults living in Allegheny County. But officials are going over the results of another survey to find out how many homeless youth live in the county, which includes people age 24 and younger.

ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement Judy Schmidt

The recent discovery of 1,284 new planets by NASA has increased interest in astronomy nationwide. And while many enjoy a clear night sky with stars too numerous to count, for some, stargazing is more than a hobby.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium showed off its Amur leopard cub on Friday, as zoo keepers continue to help it acclimate to its enclosure.

The 3-month-old cub was born in February, the first for mother Candy, and is the first of its kind born at the zoo in 16 years, officials said. Curator of Mammals for the zoo, Ken Kammerer, said he's been watching the cub very closely because the Amur leopard is the rarest animal in the world. 

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

A recent effort to collect teddy bears for Pittsburgh police officers to hand out to children in emergency situations far outstripped its intended scope.

In 1680, English nobleman Edward Coke codified his country's common law regarding fetal homicide.

"[T]his is a great misdemeanour, and no murder," Coke wrote of the intentional death of a fetus in utero "by Potion, Battery, or other cause."

Gene J. Puskar / AP

All taxpayers in Pennsylvania pay for the state police, and the state police serves all taxpayers. It just serves some taxpayers a bit more.

According to the Pennsylvania State Police, 1,287 of the 2,561 municipalities in Pennsylvania have no local police force. 

Don Stranger

Ask a Pittsburgher where the best pizza in the city is and you’re bound to get a different answer depending on which pie lover you ask.

For anyone looking to make an informed decision, more than a dozen pizza shops will come together May 14 for the second Steel City Pizza Fest in Lawrenceville.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Lindsey Coy and Mindi Doyle work in a nice office Downtown for People’s Natural Gas, but they spent the last week counting down the days until they could sand off layers of peeling paint from an old East McKeesport door.

waferboard / flickr

More than $18 million in grants will help Allegheny County’s homeless population by funding housing and jobs programs in the region.

Social service agencies in the county were recently awarded $3.6 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, to combat homelessness. And in March, another $14.6 million in HUD grants was doled out to assist women, teens, veterans, ex-offenders and other homeless individuals.

Daniel Lobo / Flickr

As Allegheny County’s Latino population grows, the Port Authority is trying to make sure non-English speakers can access translation services.

To increase awareness, PAT is launching a campaign with billboards and brochures at bus shelters in neighborhoods with large Latino populations, including Brookline, Beechview and Oakland.

Bill Rand / Flickr

City officials are slated to receive $1.2 million in reimbursement funds six months after the federal government first pledged to support redevelopment along the corridor of Forbes and Fifth avenues in Uptown.

We Want To Hear About Your Favorite Teacher

May 2, 2016
Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr

Who was the best teacher you ever had? And what made him or her so great?

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Many of the men who met in an empty storefront between Guntown Vape and Nice Ink Tattoo on Canonsburg's West Pike Street last week had visible tattoos and closely shaved heads.

They were armed with a rainbow of rubber bands and brightly-hued hair brushes, while Joe Cafeo taught them how to fashion the perfect ponytail and braid.

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