Welcome to Monday, Philly. You might want to grab an umbrella today, as there’s still rain in the area this morning. Philly is in the national spotlight today after two African American men were arrested in a Starbucks in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood last week, sparking protests and outrage from all corners of the city. Before an employee called the police, the two men were doing what everyone does in Starbucks: hanging out, waiting for a friend. Investigations have been launched, new protests are planned, and this story is still developing. In other news, the final installment of the ProPublica and Inquirer investigation into Philly’s ICE office has been released, and it focuses on the accountability (or lack thereof) of arresting officers. Let’s jump in.
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Dozens of protesters took over the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce Streets Sunday afternoon and more protests are planned for today to demand the firing of the store’s manager, who called the police Thursday when two African American men who were waiting for a friend were asked to leave and refused.
Video of the two men being handcuffed and arrested quickly went viral, sparking national outrage and prompting responses from Police Commissioner Richard Ross, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke and more. No charges were ever filed, and the mayor’s office and the Philadelphia Police Department are launching investigations into the incident.
Starbucks has launched its own investigation and issued a statement from its CEO, who is in Philadelphia today to meet with the two men and offer an apology. Beyond an apology, columnist Jenice Armstrong believes Starbucks should fire the employee who called the police.
Federal agents in Pennsylvania have aggressively embraced a Trump administration directive to focus on deporting undocumented immigrants. The Philly Immigration and Customs Enforcement office arrests more immigrants without criminal convictions than any other office in the country.
Among those arrests, however, an investigation by ProPublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer has found numerous cases in which ICE agents and police officers allegedly engaged in racial profiling, fabricated evidence, and even solicited a bribe. Yet rarely is the conduct of arresting officers scrutinized in immigration courts, where the backlog reached an all-time high in March. Don’t miss the final installment of this dual investigation, No Sanctuary: Crush of Cases, Less Scrutiny.
Read No Sanctuary:
- Part One: In Pennsylvania, it’s open season on undocumented immigrants
- Part Two: For cops who want to round up illegal immigrants, Pennsylvania is a free-for-all
For those who row on the Schuylkill River, it’s simple math. A typical scull boat is 14 inches deep. On a recent day, the water at the end of a Boathouse Row dock measured 16 inches. The river desperately needs to be dredged.
The problem, of course, is money. Dredging the Schuylkill will cost $4.5 million and its fate is in the hands of the Army Corps of Engineers. Their headquarters claims there’s no commercial value to the project. If layers of silt aren’t removed, the shallow river’s regatta business, which generates millions of dollars locally, will be in serious jeopardy over the next few years.
What you need to know today
- The retrial of Bill Cosby on sexual assault charges continues today with a second day of cross-examination of Andrea Constand. The entertainer’s defense lawyer tried to rattle her Friday as she told the court that Cosby violated her in 2004.
- Downingtown’s St. Joseph Parish was shocked to find Sunday that their pastor has resigned amid an investigation into an off-the-books bank account and inappropriate “relationships with adults” violating archdiocesan standards.
- The Flyers fell to the Penguins 5-1 last night in their third playoff game, giving Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead in the series. Game 4 will take place Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center. In much better sports news, the Phillies won their sixth straight Sunday.
- John Dougherty, head of Philly’s electricians union, isn’t letting an FBI investigation stop him from raising more campaign money than ever for his favorite local candidates.
- Protesters took to City Hall Saturday to oppose the latest U.S. airstrikes in Syria, announced late Friday. President Trump said the attacks were in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians outside Damascus.
- The Eagles have released Daryl Worley, their new Philly-raised cornerback, after he was tased and arrested early Sunday. He was found passed out in his car, which contained a gun, in South Philly and reportedly became combative with police. Columnist Marcus Hayes wonders why he wasn’t given a second chance.
- In November, Johnny Bobbitt helped a stranded New Jersey woman with his last $20. That small act of kindness quickly snowballed into a media frenzy, a crowdfunding campaign, and a $400,000 windfall. Now Bobbitt is struggling to rebuild his life and stay sober.
Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly
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Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout out!
- The Sixers beat the Heat Saturday night in their first game of the playoffs and they play their second game tonight in Philly. All-star center Joel Embiid remains sidelined thanks to a fracture near his eye, but nothing is keeping Sixers’ owner Josh Harris down. He says he wants that NBA championship.
- Philly’s urban community gardens are struggling under the weight of gentrification, but they’re not laying down their tools just yet. Instead they’re training a small army of lawyers to represent them and launching a pilot program to support gardeners.
- Thousands of Philly youth are exposed to traumatic events at a young age, from fires and community violence to abuse and poverty. Now a North Philly nonprofit is helping them cope through trauma-informed counseling.
- Sesame Place in Bucks County just became the world’s first autism-certified amusement park and its furry and friendly characters are leading the way for children’s entertainment spaces.
- Following some public outcry, a K-9 officer who was separated from his SEPTA partner amid mysterious circumstances is now being retired and reunited with his family.
- Flowers aren’t the only thing in bloom this time of year. It’s restaurant opening season and there are seafood joints, breweries, BYOBs and more headed to the region.
“Instead of embarking on a rigorous, well-researched endeavor, [OTCS] opted for a quick, highly visible lane change while not acknowledging its limitations or potential risks.” — Rick Ketterer, co-chair of the Society Hill Civic Association’s Complete Streets Committee, on the city’s plans for changing bike lanes on Spruce and Pine streets.
- The Super Wawa, complete with gas station, proposed for Pennsport would halt the Delaware waterfront’s progress and undermine investment in the community if zoning changes are approved, writes Joseph Forkin, president of the Delaware River Waterfront Corp.
- Bombing Syria won’t save the country’s children, but private citizens can help the humanitarian crisis in ways the U.S. government won’t, writes columnist Will Bunch.
What we’re reading
- It’s easy to see why a youth football team that’s taken four straight national championships would deserve a quality field. Yet, as PlanPhilly reports, the Germantown Raiders are struggling to make due with their home turf and don’t see relief in sight.
- Fans of MSNBC will recognize Mount Airy’s Malcolm Nance from his many appearances on the channel. As Philadelphia Magazine writes, the national security talking head has become “the Neil deGrasse Tyson of American spydom.”
- Doulas across the country are vying to deliver the baby of rap sensation Cardi B, including one West Philly woman who made her case to Billy Penn.
- Speaking of giving birth, the New York Times Magazine has released a new report explaining why black mothers and babies are facing life-and-death healthcare disparities. It includes a startling statistic: black infants in America are more than twice as likely to die as white infants, a higher racial disparity than existed in 1850, before the end of slavery.
- Horror movies are making a major comeback in theaters. The Ringer has dived into why hits like A Quiet Place are scaring up ticket sales in the age of Netflix.
Your Daily Dose of | Strength
A long-distance friendship with an Iraqi man opened a window into Middle Eastern life for one Penn State professor. Then U.S. forces bombed the man’s house. Now they’ve finally met in person.