End Pre-trial Detention!
While Philadelphia’s courts have been closed since March, arrests and preliminary arraignment hearings have continued. This means that DA Larry Krasner's broken promises of bail reform keep thousands of people incarcerated without trial, 91% of which are Black. Jails have been some of the worst epicenters of the coronavirus epidemic due to the unsanitary and inhumane conditions. We must defund the police, put an end to the state-sponsored destruction of Black communities, and replace prisons with community support and restorative justice.
Every Thursday from 6 - 8pm we're running call-a-thons with the Philly Bail Fund to get people out of jail and back home to their families. We'll also be doing follow-up calls to connect recently-released people with housing, groceries, and other support networks. We can’t free our neighbors behind bars and abolish cash bail without putting in the work!
- Philly Bail Fund Call-a-thon: July 30th from 6:00 - 8:00 PM
- Lilac General Meeting: Online on Thursday, July 23rd at 2:00 PM. Check the Facebook event for details on how to join.
- Red Rogues Socialist Trivia Online: Every Monday from 5:30 - 6:30 PM.
- Socialist Book Club - Hammer and Hoe: Saturday, July 25th at 1 PM. The zoom link will be posted in the Facebook event.
Help Wanted (reach out here if interested)
- The Newsletter is looking for people to write news summaries, provide original content, and take photographs.
- We are starting up our Mobilizer Program! We need help doing outreach.
Local News Summaries and Links
- Philadelphia’s Managing Director Brian Abernathy, Mayor Kenney’s number 2, will be stepping down as a result of backlash to the city’s violent response to police brutality protests in June. The New York Times did an investigation into the clash on 676, but use of armored vehicles, rubber bullets, and tear gas in a Black neighborhood in West Philly hasn’t caught nearly as much traction in the news. Black community groups have renewed calls for Mayor Kenney to end stop and frisk, which he pledged to do during his 2015 campaign. Even with controversy swirling, the police mingled with the Proud Boys, an alt-right hate group, during an FOP event and visit from Mike Pence.
- Philadelphia’s eviction moratorium has been extended through September 2, but the Homeowners Association of Philadelphia (HAPCO) has filed a federal lawsuit to block the city’s Emergency Housing Protection Act. Also, the city has also announced another $28 million in rental assistance for income-strapped renters starting July 6. Finally, city officials plan to remove the homeless encampment by the parkway on July 17th. Organizers of the camp say they won’t leave.
- The Covid-related closing of many senior and cooling centers in Philadelphia is leaving senior citizens at greater risk for heat-related illness. Despite the fact that heat leads to more deaths than hurricanes, tornadoes or floods, the city has few plans to help. According to former Managing Director Brian Abernathy, “the City’s budget is simply too constrained to support any special programs....” This despite the city squandering $350 million to create a new police headquarters. Seniors of color are at an even greater risk because a greater number are poor and live in dense urban neighborhoods where the heat-island effect can create temperatures up to 22 degrees higher than elsewhere. Many poor seniors do not own air conditioners or cannot afford the cost of electricity to run them. Also, 36% of city residents over 60 live alone, with no one to look out for them.
- The Trump 2020 campaign, along with the Republican National Committee and two US Reps. from Pennsylvania, sued Pennsylvania elections officials to prevent use of drop boxes in the November elections. The Republicans claim that ballot boxes, introduced to protect people from the coronavirus, are unconstitutional and are concerned for ballot security and fraud protection. Critics of the suit believe that this is an attempt at voter suppression.
- Over a dozen local LGBTQ organizations came together at Love Park to host the Philly Queer March for Black Lives on June 21. The march was held during ongoing protests for Black lives as well as the annual Pride Month in June. Organizers clarified that it was not a Pride march, but one to raise awareness for LGBTQ Black people. The "More Colors, More Pride" flag, containing the Pride rainbow with black and brown stripes, was prominently displayed. The flag, which originated in Philadelphia, has been adopted internationally since its creation in 2017.
- Members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers have major concerns about opening schools this fall. Around 100 out of Pennsylvania’s more than 700 school districts and charters have submitted their plans for safely opening this fall. Philadelphia’s plan hasn’t been released yet, but students will not have their temperatures checked. Meanwhile, Trump has threatened to take away federal funds for schools that don’t open.
- Students don’t have much to do during the summer of the coronavirus. Rec Centers are only open on a limited basis, and swimming pools and public libraries are closed. The city does have a number of “spraygrounds" where children can cool off. Also, the city and the Philadelphia Free Library are running youth-oriented programming on the Internet. However, only 58% of high school students have accessed the Internet from their homes, according to a 2019 School District survey.
- Top shelf Philadelphia jazz musicians Bootsie Barnes, Henry Grimes and Wallace Rooney have succumbed to the coronavirus. Gene Shay, the founder of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, long term folk music DJ, and concert promoter is also a casualty of the pandemic.
The Lilac Newsletter Group