Tag: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney

Starbucks Incident Prompts Philadelphia Police Department to Implement New De-Escalation Policy in Trespass Cases

via philadelphia.cbslocal.com

The Philadelphia Police Department has issued a new policy prompted by the controversial arrests of two black men at a Center City Starbucks in April.

The police department says the new “Defiant Trespass” policy will better guide officers when called to investigate and enforce defiant trespass complaints.

“The department is committed to addressing any concerns about racial bias in the department’s policies and practices. After examining various aspects of the incident that took place at Starbucks coffee shop in Center City on April 12, 2018, department leadership recognized a need for a policy that would better guide officers when called to investigate and enforce defiant trespass complaints,” the department said in press release on Friday.

Under the policy, a person can face the charge of “Defiant Trespass” if, while knowing he or she is not licensed or privileged to do so, the person enters or remains in any place where notice against trespassing has been given by:

  • Being told to leave.
  • Postings that are legal and would likely come to his or her attention.
  • Fencing or other enclosures designed to exclude intruders.
  • Postings at each entrance on a school ground that say unauthorized visitors are prohibited.
  • Being told to leave a school or its grounds by a program official, employee or police officer.

Officers have also been provided with guidance on how to respond to calls related to trespassing on private business property that is open to the public. Police say this will allow police officers, with direction from their supervisors, to use greater discretion in taking actions that are most appropriate for each individual case.

The policy states officers are expected to de-escalate and mediate the disturbance between the owner and the offender before an arrest is made. Depending on the circumstances, police say the charges can range from a summary to a misdemeanor.

The department says they have taken steps to turn the Starbucks incident into a positive learning experience.

“We’ve made a lot of progress and will continue to do so as we explore and implement new practices that reflect the importance of diversity, public safety and accountability,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney called the policy a “positive step.”

“I’m pleased that the Philadelphia Police Department thoroughly reviewed its internal policies and created clearer guidance for police officers responding to calls related to trespassing on private business property that is open to the public. The new policy will allow police officers to use greater discretion in taking actions that are most appropriate for each individual case,” said Kenney. “This can lead to fewer arrests, and, most importantly, will ensure that our officers are not placed in untenable situations at the behest of retailers.”

Wrongfully Arrested Starbucks Patrons Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson Settle with Philadelphia for $2 in Exchange for $200,000 Fund for Young Entrepreneurs

Image: Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson
Rashon Nelson, left, and Donte Robinson, right, sit on their attorney’s sofa as they pose for a portrait following an interview on April 18, 2018. (Jacqueline Larma / AP file) 

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to nbcnews.com, Rashon Nelson, 23, and Donte Robinson, 23, the two men whose arrest at a Starbucks last month set off a wave of protests against the coffee corporation for discrimination have reached a settlement with the city of Philadelphia, the Mayor’s Office stated today.They will each be paid a symbolic $1 and release the city and employees of all claims in exchange for the creation of a $200,000 fund that, through the help of a nonprofit organization, will assist young entrepreneurs in Philadelphia. Robinson and Nelson are to serve on the committee that will establish and award the grant, which will focus on starting a pilot curriculum for public high school students to attain the skills to become business owners.

The mayor’s office stated that Nelson, Robinson and their attorneys will not receive any payment from the grant funds. The money will come from the budget of the city’s Finance Department.

“I am pleased to have resolved the potential claims against the City in this productive manner,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “This was an incident that evoked a lot of pain in our City, pain that would’ve resurfaced over and over again in protracted litigation, which presents significant legal risks and high financial and emotional costs for everyone involved.” He added that Robinson and Nelson themselves approached the city with the grant fund idea “in an attempt to make something positive come of this.”

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson in a statement Thursday said a confidential financial settlement between Nelson, Robinson and Starbucks has been reached and thanked the men for their “willingness to reconcile.”

“I welcome the opportunity to begin a relationship with them to share learnings and experiences,” he said.

The coffee chain on May 29 plans to close more than 8,000 U.S. stores for an afternoon to train nearly 175,000 workers in “racial-bias education.”

Robinson, who said he’s been a Starbucks customer since he was 15, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the agreement with the city of Philadelphia was the right decision. “We thought long and hard about it and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” he said. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”

Civil Rights and War Hero Octavius Catto to Become Philadelphia’s 1st African American Honored With a Public Statue

This model of the Octavius V. Catto Memorial shows the statue, pillars and ballot box elements that will make up the $1.75 million project. (photo via phillyvoice.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to blavity.comOctavius Valentine Catto will be honored with a statue outside of Philadelphia’s city hall this September. Catto’s statue will be the first monument built to honor an African American erected on public land in the City of Brotherly Love. Although Catto’s memorial has been in the works for years, in the wake of the push to take so many Confederate statues down across the nation, the timing for this statue’s unveiling could not be better.

In Charleston, South Carolina on February 22, 1839, Catto was born a free black man. Catto excelled at his studies, attending a school for black children in Philadelphia, the Institute for Colored Youth, an institution he later led.

According to phillyvoice.com, in his early 20s, Catto was already an active leader in the African American community. He was a member of the 4th Ward Black Political Club, the Union League Association, the Library Company and the Franklin Institute. He demanded that African Americans fight in the Civil War and helped get their regiments inducted into the war. In 1863, at the height of the Civil War, he joined the army and enlisted as a volunteer in defense of the state of Pennsylvania.

Octavius Catto (photo via phillyvoice.com)

Catto was also a major in the Pennsylvania National Guard and played baseball as captain and second baseman for the Pythians, an African American baseball team. He was inducted into the Negro League Baseball Museum’s Hall of Fame.

Beyond being an educator, ball player and a war hero, Philadelphia is celebrating Catto for his local civil rights activism, which went into full gear after he was kicked off of a segregated horse-drawn trolley. He staged a sit-in on the streetcars, refusing to move off of the car. The driver drove the car off of its track and unhitched its horses, unsure how else to get rid of Catto. Catto remained aboard; the other passengers and the driver left him there. Catto also defended several black women who were forcibly ejected from the city’s streetcars, and used a fine levied against his fiancée to drum up publicity for his cause. Finally, in 1867, due in large part to Catto’s pressure, the city desegregated its streetcars.

“In Philadelphia, at that time, you could be wearing a Civil War uniform and not have been able to get on that trolley car,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who has been hoping to bring a statue of Catto to the city since at least 2003, after he learned the story of Catto’s life. “[Knowing this] you realize, this struggle isn’t just a 1960s struggle. It’s a struggle from the beginning of the country.” Continue reading “Civil Rights and War Hero Octavius Catto to Become Philadelphia’s 1st African American Honored With a Public Statue”