Pushing love over hate

The savage beating suffered by a gay couple in Center City two weeks ago has spurred more than local, national and global headlines in its wake. It boosted conversations about equality. It also has re-ignited a push to update state and local hate crimes laws.

Many were appalled to learn that defendants in the recent Center City case would not be charged with a hate crime, despite reports that they hurled homophobic slurs at the victims during an incident that sent both to the hospital, one with extensive facial wounds. Police can’t make those charges — because those provisions aren’t on the books in Philadelphia or Pennsylvania.

That loophole fueled hundreds of people to gather — in the rain — at the Love over Hate rally in the shadow of City Hall on Thursday afternoon. With the iconic LOVE sculpture behind them, lawmakers, civic leaders, law enforcement and PCHR Chair Thomas H. Earle expressed outrage and steps toward solutions in the aftermath of the beating.

PCHR Chair Thomas H. Earle applauds city and state lawmakers for not only advancing legislation to protect LGBT residents from hate crimes, but also those with physical and intellectual disabilities, who also suffer too often in silence. Rosalyn Still provided ASL translation for the event.

PCHR Chair Thomas H. Earle applauds city and state lawmakers for not only advancing legislation to protect LGBT residents from hate crimes, but also those with physical and intellectual disabilities, who also suffer too often in silence. Rosalyn Still provided ASL translation for the event.

“I’m trying not just to be pissed,” state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) told the crowd. “I’m trying to be resolute. Not just to be angry, but to be empowered.”

The state has been without LGBT protections in its hate crimes laws since 2008, when the state Supreme Court bounced that part of the law enacted in 2002 on a technicality over how it came to be.

State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) has been advancing bills to correct that, hoping to persuade colleagues to amend the state’s hate crimes laws. In his most recent version, Ferlo was joined by Philadelphia colleagues such as state Sens. LeAnna Washington, Larry Farnese, Anthony Hardy Williams, Shirley M. Kitchen and Tina Tartaglione.

State Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-Montgomery and Philadelphia) and Sims also have been pushing to update hate crimes statutes to include attacks based on sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

Earle noted at the rally, people with physical and intellectual disabilities also often terrorized in silence, be it a blind person whose seeing eye dog is deliberately poisoned or someone with an intellectual disability being targeted for assault.

The murder of 21-year-old Christian Massey in Delaware County and the the rape and murder of Christina Sankey are but two widely publicized cases that shook the region and the nation. Many more, Earle and others note, happen every day without the fanfare — or wider protections.

City lawmakers already intend to up the ante.

On Thursday, City Councilwoman Blondell Reyndolds Brown and City Councilman Jim Kenney introduced a bill that would update city ordinances and include stricter penalties for hate crimes fueled by racism and bigotry and that target LGBT or disabled individuals. Support within the chamber has been overwhelming, Reynolds Brown said.

Kenney told the Philadelphia Daily News that, “Unless and until the commonwealth of Pennsylvania extends protections to LGBT Pennsylvanians, then Philadelphia has a responsibility to do whatever is in our power to protect our LGBT folks Right now, they are not protected.”

City Council President Darrell L. Clarke put it even plainer during the LOVE Park rally. “If you can’t figure out a way to conduct yourself in the city of Philadelphia, don’t come here. We will not stand for that.”

 

 

PCHR in the news

Domestic violence has found its way into the news and public consciousness lately, sparked by the ongoing drama involving former NFL star Ray Rice — and music superstars Jay-Z and his sister-in-law Solange Knowles before that. phil_daily_news2

If any silver lining can be seen, it’s in the increased focus on solutions for dealing with the aftermath of such trauma. PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau offers some perspective on that side of the conversation in the Philadelphia Daily News:

After the furor, though, there remains the real struggle to survive the aftermath of abuse. There are lives shattered by the horror of intimate violence. Great groups do a large share of the work to help re-assemble those lives, ranging from Women Against Abuse to the Nationalities Service Center.

But there also is other support available, often untapped: the Domestic Violence and Unpaid Leave Law . . ..

Read the complete op-ed here.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2014: The Puerto Rican edition

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Maria QuiñonesSánchez led a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall on Monday as veterans and JROTC high school cadets alike gathered with hundreds of proud Puerto Ricans and supporters from the ranks of the city’s public safety offices and other City Council members to celebrate this segment of Hispanic Heritage Month.

After an invocation offered by the Rev. Gerardo Colon Jr. of Casa Apostolica Internacional and between public pronouncements and strains of both the Star-Spangled Banner and La Borinqueña, the Puerto Rican national anthem, the flag was hoisted into a gentle September breeze. After the cheers came an impromptu fiesta, where the councilwoman arranged for lunch of Puerto Rican delicacies on the plaza.

City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau proudly celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in Philadelphia.

City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau proudly celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in Philadelphia.

City Councilman William Greenlee (l.) proudly shows off his guayabera, a shirt traditionally warn in the Caribbean -- to the cheers of the crowd and City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, MOIMA Deputy Director Fernando Treviño-Martinez, Congreso's Joanna Otero-Cruz and City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez.

City Councilman Bill Greenlee (l.) proudly shows off his guayabera, a shirt traditionally warn in the Caribbean — to the cheers of the crowd and (l.-r). Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer, City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, MOIMA Deputy Director Fernando Treviño-Martinez, Congreso’s Joanna Otero-Cruz and City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez.

Color guard from the Philadelphia Military Academy at Elverson open the 2014 raising of the Puerto Rican flag at City Hall.

Color guard from the Philadelphia Military Academy at Elverson open the 2014 raising of the Puerto Rican flag at City Hall.

Snapshot: Northwest look at opening day for Philly public schools

Monday not only started a new week but a new school year for students, parents, educators and staff of the School District of Philadelphia. After a summer roiled with budget uncertainty, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. opened schools with admittedly diminished resources, from supplies to personnel.

Dozens respond to the second annual call for a community unity prayer for opening day at Martin Luther King High School.

Dozens respond to the second annual call for a community unity prayer for opening day at Martin Luther King High School.

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PCHR Deputy Director Randy Duque takes a moment with state Rep. Dwight Evans.

nw_opening_day_090814 Community members and civic leaders were determined to help students usher in the 2014-15 school year on the right note, as many gathered across the city to walk children along familiar routes, as well as new ones, to school. Closures issued to help curb budget deficits have scattered dozens of student bodies of now-defunct buildings.

Such is the case at Martin Luther King High School in Northwest Philadelphia, which has absorbed many students displaced by the 2013 closing of Germantown High School. So dozens of concerned supporters gathered for a sunrise program to show their support for students there for a second year in row.

Fears of turf battles and other friction that could lead to violent outburst were countered by a locked-arms group prayer for unity and peace, led by the Rev. Alyn E. Waller of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church. While the symbolic gestures was focused on those in the Northwest part of town, it’s a shared sentiment across the city.

The Northwest Community Coalition for Youth organized the event that included Safe Corridors, Protecting our Futures, Northwest Victims Services, My Brother’s Keeper and the office of state Rep. Dwight Evans. Deputy Director Randy Duque represented PCHR at the interfaith event.

Global glimpses: Iraqi delegation exchange

PCHR helped host a delegation of Iraqi visitors traveling the United States as part of a broader interfaith dialogue, spending time in Philadelphia on Wednesday and Thursday before heading to New York to continue their tour. Commissioners Saadiq Jabbar Garner and Marshall Freeman engaged the group during activities in City Hall on Wednesday while PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau and Deputy Director Randy Duque helped the group understand the mission and interworkings of PCHR during a Thursday visit.

Iraqi delegation in Philadelphia

Commissioner Saadiq Jabbar Garner offers greetings and opening words — in Arabic and English — in City Hall’s Conversation Hall to an Iraqi delegation via the International Visitor Leadership Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia.

 

 

Commissioner Saadiq Jabbar Garner listens intently to the perspective of Rev. Msgr. Michael Carroll during an interfaith dialogue discussion with an Iraqi delegation in Philadelphia.

Commissioner Saadiq Jabbar Garner listens intently to the perspective of Rev. Msgr. Michael Carroll during an interfaith dialogue with an Iraqi delegation in Philadelphia.

Commissioner Saadiq Jabbar Garner, subbing for Mayor Michael A. Nutter, offers Imam Barzan Barn Rashid a commemorative gift on behalf of the city – a replica Liberty Bell.

Commissioner Saadiq Jabbar Garner, subbing for Mayor Michael A. Nutter, offers Imam Barzan Barn Rashid a commemorative gift on behalf of the city – a replica Liberty Bell.

Imam Barzan Barn Rashid (l.) discusses fundraising efforts for widows, orphans and others displaced post-war in Iraq during a visit to PCHR.

Imam Barzan Barn Rashid (l.) discusses fundraising efforts for widows, orphans and others displaced in post-war Iraq during a visit to PCHR.

PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau (r.) shares a laugh with Iraqi magazine editor Abbas Radhi Al’A’amiri, no translation necessary.

PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau (r.) shares a laugh with Iraqi magazine editor Abbas Radhi Al’A’amiri — no translation necessary.

Pumping up protection: Enactment of Philadelphia’s breastfeeding accommodation law

On Wednesday, Mayor Michael A. Nutter enacted legislation that directly will impact the lives of Philadelphia’s nursing mothers and their families.

Mayor Michael A. Nutter enacts Bill No. 130922, ensuring breastfeeding accommodation in Philadelphia workplaces, witnessed by (l-r) Saniah R. Johnson, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, Councilman David Oh, Rue Landau, Carol Fischer and Letizia Amadini Lane, vice president and global head, Employee Value Proposition, Office of CEO and Corporate Strategy, GSK. Photo courtesy Kait Pritivera.

Mayor Michael A. Nutter enacts Bill No. 130922, ensuring breastfeeding accommodation in Philadelphia workplaces, witnessed by (l-r) Saniah M. Johnson, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, Councilman David Oh, Rue Landau, Carol Fischer and Letizia Amadini Lane, vice president and global head, Employee Value Proposition, Office of CEO and Corporate Strategy, GSK. Photo courtesy Kait Pritivera.

Before an audience of lawmakers, advocates, industry and civic leaders, the mayor signed Bill No. 130922, making it mandatory for all businesses to provide a safe, private and sanitary space for female employees who need to pump milk from their breasts.

A cross-section of Philadelphia came out to celebrate the signing of Bill No. 1309222 including (l-r) corporate and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. leader Lorina Marshall, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, civic and Zeta Phi Beta leader Saniah M. Johnson, Hillary Emerson of state Rep. Cherelle Parker’s office, Maternity Care Coalition Executive Director JoAnne Fischer, GSK Vice President Letizia Amadini Lane, PCHR Commissioner Saadiq Jabbar Garner, Amal Bass, Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Councilman David Oh, PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau, Women’s Law Project Carol Tracy, Pennsylvania Breastfeeding Coalition members Bonnie Higgins-Esplund and Lisa McCloskey with PCHR Commissioner Marshall Freeman.

A cross-section of Philadelphia came out to celebrate the signing of Bill No. 1309222 including (l-r) corporate and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. leader Lorina Marshall Blake, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, civic and Zeta Phi Beta leader Saniah M. Johnson, Maternity Care Coalition Executive Director JoAnne Fischer, GSK Vice President Letizia Amadini Lane, PCHR Commissioner Saadiq Jabbar Garner, Amal Bass, Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Councilman David Oh, PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau, Women’s Law Project Carol Tracy, Pennsylvania Breastfeeding Coalition members Bonnie Higgins-Esplund and Lisa McCloskey with PCHR Commissioner Marshall Freeman.

The legislation, authored by City Councilman David Oh, takes effect immediately and its enforcement falls to PCHR.

“This is an incredibly important day because now PCHR has a new tool to use to ensure that the rights of all workers are respected,” said PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau, who emceed the bill signing ceremony. She had testified on the merits of the legislation during hearings last June.

“Before when we would receive these kinds of complaints, they fell under the broader term of ‘sex discrimination,’ which is more difficult to investigate and prove,” Landau said. “Now, there is a clear mandate for employers and employees, so that everyone understands what is required. And women should no longer be afraid to assert their rights. This is the law. Clear and simple.”

Complaints should be filed with PCHR. Fines up to $2,000 may be issued to those who break the law.

PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau speaks about the benefits and consequences of the new breastfeeding accommodation law. Photo courtesy Kait Privitera.

PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau speaks about the benefits and consequences of the new breastfeeding accommodation law. Photo courtesy Kait Privitera.

Breastfeeding has clear scientific benefits for children, including preventing illness. Nationally, 1 in 3 parents of young children fear losing pay or their jobs should they take off to care for sick children, according to a recent study by the University of Michigan and the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Still, being able to express milk at work without ridicule, stress or harassment has been an ongoing concern for women, said JoAnne Fischer, executive director of the Maternity Care Coalition.

Nursing mothers often have abandoned breastfeeding once they return to work, facing difficulties ranging from scheduling pumping breaks to unsupportive and even abusive co-workers and supervisors.

In Pennsylvania, only about 32 percent of mothers exclusively breastfeed their infants during their first three months; by six months, that tally dropped to about 16 percent, nearly half, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“Now women don’t have to make a choice between doing what’s best for their children and returning to work,” said Letizia Amadini Lane, GSK vice president of employee value proposition. “They can lead and live a great life, a balanced life.”

The global pharmaceutical giant with Philadelphia offices already has instituted quiet nursing areas for mothers who need to express milk, and Amadini Lane urged the city’s other corporate citizens to follow GSK’s lead and applauded the enactment.

The legislation, she added, “is the right thing to do for children, who are our leaders of tomorrow and for mothers, who are our leaders of today.”

Watch the event.

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