Thursday, July 7, 2016

Rally scheduled and website started in support for Pittsburgh immigrant in process of being deported

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 4:01 PM

After City Paper reported the story of Martin Esquivel-Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico with no criminal record who is currently in the process of being deported, CP editor Charlie Deitch called for Pittsburghers to get involved in the fight to keep Esquivel-Hernandez in the Steel City.

Martin Esquivel-Hernandez marching in a immigrants-rights rally on May 1 - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Martin Esquivel-Hernandez marching in a immigrants-rights rally on May 1
And many have responded. On July 8, more than 100 marchers will rally in support of Esquivel-Hernandez and “to oppose the politics of hate and fear,” according to the group’s Facebook page. The supporters are particularly calling out presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, from Pa., for their remarks and actions against undocumented immigrants. (Trump has called Mexican immigrants rapists, and Toomey sponsored a bill to block funding to “sanctuary cities,” or ones that refuse to communicate with the Department of Homeland Security about undocumented immigrants without warrants; the bill was blocked recently by U.S. Senate Democrats.)

In fact, Esquivel-Hernandez was picked up by immigration officers most likely because he had been cited for driving without a valid license in Mount Lebanon, a town without a sanctuary city-like policy. Lt. Duane Fisher, of the Mount Lebanon Police, says the township's general policy is to make contact with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if police “find someone who is unlicensed” and to see whether ICE has “any reason to see if [the suspect] is wanted.” Fisher says that from there, Mount Lebanon police don’t follow up on the case, and that it becomes ICE’s call. Pittsburgh, while not a sanctuary city, has a policy to not initiate contact with ICE, but will cooperate if contacted.

Immigration will be a main topic at the public march on Friday, which will coincide with the People’s Convention being held Downtown, and begins at 2:30 p.m. at 10th Street and Penn Avenue. For those wishing to provide further support to the Esquivel-Hernandez family, a website has been created (keeptheesquivelfamilytogether.com) where supporters can sign a letter to U.S. District Attorney David Hickton, who is prosecuting the case against Esquivel-Hernandez, that asks Hickton to drop the felony re-entry charges.

The groups rallying around Esquivel-Hernandez include the Pittsburgh chapter of the Labor Council for Latino Advancement, Latino outreach group Casa San José, nonprofit coalition One Pittsburgh, and social-justice-advocacy group the Thomas Merton Center.

A message in support of Esquivel-Hernandez is written on the website: “We sincerely believe Hickton is using this charge to brand Martín as a criminal deserving of jail time and immediate deportation. Martín does not belong in a prison cell. He should be back with his family and the community that loves and needs him the most.”

Esquivel-Hernandez has been in Pittsburgh for more than four years and has been involved in an assessment of Latino needs for Allegheny County; advocated for better translation services in Pittsburgh schools; and marched in immigrant-rights rallies.

The Obama administration has said that it will prosecute undocumented immigrants who threaten public safety, but the advocacy groups claim that Esquivel-Hernandez does not fit into that category given his lack of a criminal record and positive involvement in the community.

Donations can also be given on the website, or people can send a check to Pittsburgh LCLAA with “solidarity with Esquivel family” written on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to:

Pittsburgh LCLAA
United Steelworkers
Attn.: Guillermo Perez
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA. 15222

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Review of Beckett one-acts at the New Hazlett Theater

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 12:13 PM

Two notable Pittsburgh performers successfully tackled a pair of one-person plays by Samuel Beckett.
The two-part T.A.C.T. production features Daina Michelle Griffith in “Not I” (1972) and Martin Giles in Krapp’s Last Tape (1958). Both rise to the challenge of these storied, difficult roles for a compelling evening of theater by a company in its second season.

Martin Giles and Daina Michelle Griffith
  • Martin Giles and Daina Michelle Griffith
“Not I” is a rapid-fire, stream-of-consciousness monologue by an elderly woman who, abandoned as a child, has been “speechless all her days, practically speechless,” and speaks only in bursts “once or twice a year, always winter, some strange reason.” It lasts 15 minutes with only a few short pauses, a distinctly Beckettian chronicle of personal trauma and obsessive self-awareness.

Usually, “Not I” is presented by an actress raised above the stage, her mouth spot-lit, with a second, silent performer behind. However director Connor Bahr (also T.A.C.T.’s founder) presents Griffith’s mouth in extreme close-up via projected video and live video feed. It’s a curious choice, but an effective way to make us focus on Griffith’s powerful vocalization of a legendarily difficult part.

The bulk of the evening, however, is Giles’, and Krapp’s Last Tape is at first as silent as “Not I” is voluble: The protagonist, an elderly disheveled man, doesn’t speak for the hour-plus play’s first 20 minutes (unless you count gasps and sighs). Instead, he stares at the audience, fumbles in his pockets and searches through the drawers of his desk. He peels two bananas, eats one, slips on the first peel. (Fans of Beckett’s vaudeville overtones, in plays like Waiting for Godot, will find a good deal to like in Krapp.)

But most of the play is Krapp listening to, and commenting on, a recollection: himself, on a reel-to-reel tape he recorded decades earlier, on his 39th birthday, when his younger self reminisced about his life, mostly about hopeful, deeply felt moments with young women that never turned into anything more.

Regret, remorse and other bitter emotions intertwine beautifully with wistfulness in the performance by Giles, long one of Pittsburgh’s top talents as an actor, director and playwright. Bahr directs.

Three performances remain of “Not I” and Krapp’s Last Tape, tonight through Saturday.

Tickets are $10-20 and are available here.

The New Hazlett Theater is located at 6 Allegheny Square East, on the North Side.



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Pittsburgh's SouthSide Works Exposed festival returns tomorrow

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 11:09 AM

SouthSide Works Exposed is back for its 12th year, partnering with I Made It! crafts marketplace to bring nearly 70 local artisans to South 27th Street for a packed three-day weekend. Handmade crafts in all sorts of media will be available for purchase each day. 

The crowd at an earlier SouthSide Works Exposed
  • The crowd at an earlier SouthSide Works Exposed
Live bands will perform throughout the weekend. Friday will feature Tres Lads and Bastard Bearded Irishmen, while Saturday showcases Shelley Duff, The Delaney’s, Lyndsey Smith & Soul Distribution, Kierra Darshell & Drag Performers and closer No Bad JuJu.

Sunday is Kids Day, with live animals, a magic show, kids' Zumba and a set from Kelsey Friday and the Rest of the Week Band. 

Additionally, about 10 food trucks, with menu items ranging from Japanese cuisine to gourmet meatballs to the timeless pierogie, will be available through the festival.

SouthSide Works Exposed takes place 5-10 p.m. tomorrow; noon-10 p.m. on Sat., July 9; and noon-5 p.m., on Sun., July 10. Admission is free. For more information, including a full schedule, see here

The festival is centered at the corner of Sidney and South 27th streets, on the South Side.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Local delegates for Bernie Sanders fundraise to offset DNC costs

Posted By on Wed, Jul 6, 2016 at 3:31 PM

Democratic-primary presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a  rally in Pittsburgh on April 25. - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Democratic-primary presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a rally in Pittsburgh on April 25.

Five delegates from the Pittsburgh area are fundraising to pay for significant hotel costs at this month's Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Efforts include a GoFundMe campaign and an upcoming fundraiser in the Strip District this Saturday.

"Unlike your typical Clinton delegate, a lot of us don’t have $2,100 lying around," says delegate Greg Schaffer, referring to the cost of the DoubleTree hotel in Philadelphia's Center City, where he says Pennsylvania's delegates are staying.

That's why this weekend, local Sanders supporters and delegates will be hosting a fundraiser at the Bayardstown Social Club, in the Strip District. Dubbed the "Bernie is Beautiful - fete and fundraiser" on a Facebook event page, organizers are asking for a $10 entrance fee, and promise a lineup of live music, barbecue (with vegan options) for sale and alcohol per donation.

"Among the people who are delegates, there are unemployed people, there are people who are students, single parents, labor lawyers, a speech therapist, all sorts of everyday people," says Schaffer, who is an at-large delegate, meaning he wasn't elected and is not bound to a candidate but was required to announce a preference. Schaffer has been volunteering with the Sanders campaign since last year. "Whereas if you look at the delegates from Pittsburgh for Clinton, there’s [County Executive] Rich Fitzgerald, [Mayor] Bill Peduto, [Pa. Senator] Jay Costa ... It’s a different ballgame."

Beth Ussery, an elected delegate from Pa.'s 14th Congressional District — which represents Pittsburgh and surrounding suburbs — says delegates are all but required to stay at the hotel, which is about four miles from the Wells Fargo Center where the DNC is happening.

(While the U.S. Secret Service has issued press releases regarding the Republican National Convention's security perimeter, in Cleveland, as of this writing there is no information posted for the DNC.)

"They won't kick you out if you don't stay at the hotel, but the problem is the security perimeter because of the high-level officials who will be there," Ussery says. She says delegates must pick up credentials each morning at breakfast, while the convention is held during the evenings. Not staying at the hotel would be too difficult logistically, she says: "If you don’t get there, you aren’t credentialed and you can’t do the voting."

Ussery and fellow 14th District elected delegate Alex Austin created a GoFundMe campaign, which is now at $1,500. The goal is $8,000. Ussery says the money raised is being reported to the Federal Elections Commission under the committee name "Pittsburgh Delegates for Bernie." "We will update the [GoFundMe campaign] total with what we raise on Saturday," she says.

A total of four elected delegates and three at-large delegates from the 14th District are supporting Sanders later this month at the DNC. On top of the hotel costs, Ussery says, the DNC has advised delegates to bring $300 to $400 for food costs.

"Everyone has a roommate. We’re not trying to live large or anything. But we also have to worry about food and transportation to and from Philly. We’re trying to do this as grassroots and bare-bones as possible," she says.

Six elected delegates from the 14th District will represent presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at the convention.

"I didn’t realize you had to stay there [at the DoubleTree]," County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who is a delegate for Clinton, says. "If you have friends or family in Philly, I would hope for most people they could stay with them."

He did not say if he was staying at the hotel, but added, "I went a couple years ago to Charlotte, [N.C.,] logistically it’s very difficult to get around. There are fences and gates and just so many people. It’s tough to get around. From a convenience standpoint [the hotel] makes sense."

Chuck Pascal, a "Party Leader, Elected Official," who is supporting Sanders says it's the Sanders campaign that is encouraging people to stay in Center City.

"I guess what it comes down to is if we know where everybody is, it’s easier to organize things," he says.

Statewide, 106 delegates are going in support of Clinton, and 83 in support of Sanders. (Twenty-one superdelegates will support Clinton.) 

Both Ussery and Schaffer say their goal at the convention is to push the party's platform to the progressive end of the spectrum.

"This movement has really inspired a lot of people to kind of work against the system that they feel for a lot of different reasons is rigged. I feel like it’s my job to look out for labor," says Ussery, a lifelong Democrat born and raised in Pittsburgh. "I will support Democrats 100 percent at the convention, but this is our opportunity to make sure they work on issues close to our heart."

For one thing, Ussery believes party leaders should "scrap" the Trans Pacific Partnership. "Especially being from the Rust Belt, we have long memories of trade agreements and how detrimental they can be," she says.

Schaffer says he will also be there "to hold the party establishment accountable."

Bernie is Beautiful Fundraiser. Bayardstown Social Club. 5 p.m.-midnight. Sat., July 9. 3008 Penn Ave., Strip District. $10. https://www.facebook.com/events/1765228673724738/

Editor's Note: This piece has been updated to include comments from delegate Chuck Pascal. 

Correction: Greg Schaffer's name was spelled incorrectly in the initial piece. We regret the error.


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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Pittsburgh's 'Q Morning Show' with Jim Krenn ends after one year; Comedian Mike Wysocki will continue writing 'City Paper' sports column

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 5:01 PM

Most people who know City Paper are aware of the fact that we were sold by Steel City Media earlier this year to Eagle Publishing, out of Butler, Pa. And despite moving from one side of our current office space to another, things here, particularly the editorial focus has not changed.

I share that piece of history to share this: Our old company, Steel City Media, held a
CP FILE PHOTO
  • CP File Photo
 meeting this morning in which staff members were told that the Q-92 on-air talent were no longer on the air this morning. Sources confirm this, as do our eyes, which witnessed the meeting this morning. We have been told by several sources that the station will run without on-air talent for a few weeks. We are uncertain if the on-air talent will be retained. I asked my former boss — Michael Frischling of Steel City Media — about the changes, and a bit ago he sent me this statement addressing only the fact that the "Q Morning Show" starring Jim Krenn, Mike Wysocki and Chris K. had been taken off the air:

“A mutual agreement has been reached by Jim Krenn and Q929FM, about the future of Jim Krenn & The Q Morning Show. With Krenn’s active schedule of charity work, comedy events, and various other commitments, both parties agree that this would be the best time for Krenn to pursue other obligations that will take him away from the day to day duties anchoring a morning show.

‘I will be working on some film projects, a new web series, along with various comedy events’ says Krenn, ‘and things have really taken off for me since my return to radio.'  Krenn continues, ‘Steel City Media is a family-owned radio station that cares about this community, and those are the kind of people I hope to be around for a long time.’

Jim Krenn will remain as an ambassador for the station and be an active part of Q929FM. Program Director Zak Szabo says 'We hate to see Jim go off the air right now, but we support his decision. He has been an amazing addition to Q929, and we look forward to working with him.'”

I share that piece of news to share the real reason I’m writing anything today. I’m not sure of all the details about what happened at Q-92 or if the talent has been permanently removed or not, but I have my suspicions. But here’s what I know for sure: Regardless of what happens there, comedian, sports columnist and all-around great Pittsburgher Mike Wysocki will continue writing his column for us here at City Paper. I texted with Mike today, and not only will he continue to write for us and do his weekly City Paper Snapchat feature, we’re hoping to find a way to work with him even more in the future.

It’s funny that the only reason that Mike writes for us now is that we once both worked for Steel City Media. I was asked to try Mike out as a columnist, even though the cynical journalist in me saw it as little more than an attempt at cross-promotion and doubted it would work out. But boy was I wrong. Mike has a unique perspective on sports and is able to relay that to the audience in a funny, engaging way. He has really grown as a writer, and his columns are one of the most popular features we offer.

Mike is taking this week off from his column, and I will do my best to fill in as a guest host from the “Cheap Seats” (although please give me some latitude when I’m not as funny as him). So while I don’t know a lot about the situation at Q-92 today, what I do know is that those of us here at CP support Mike, respect his talent and plan on keeping him writing for our pages as long as he wants to. 

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Furries show off their finest 'fursuits' to the public in Anthrocon's annual Fursuit Parade

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 12:45 PM

The so-called furries — people dressed as anthropomorphized animal characters — celebrated the 20th anniversary of Anthrocon in style on Saturday afternoon, as more than 1,000 participants showed off their fursuits to the public during the annual Fursuit Parade held outside of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Crowds gathered along the street holding "I <3 Anthrocon" signs, while furries held signs of their own including, "HOWLING IS NOT A CRIME!" and gave lots of excited kids plenty of high fives. Check out our photo slideshow of the festivities below.

Slideshow
Fursuit Parade
Anthrocon Parade Anthrocon Parade Anthrocon Parade Anthrocon Parade Anthrocon Parade Anthrocon Parade Anthrocon Parade Anthrocon Parade

Fursuit Parade

Photos by Luke Thor Travis

Click to View 50 slides

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Friday, July 1, 2016

What you need to know about Pittsburgh news this week

Posted By on Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 12:14 PM

What's happening in Pittsburgh:

furries2.jpg
1. Furries, in their annual summer pilgrimage to Anthrocon, have taken over Downtown Pittsburgh again. “I’ve been going to [Anthrocon] for as long as it’s been in Pittsburgh,” a "fursona" named Tanuki said. “Everyone is so cool. … Pittsburgh treats us like royalty.” See more photos.

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2. Donald Trump
, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, visited small-town Pennsylvania this week, promising to renegotiate NAFTA, put a stop to the TPP, and bring back steel to Western Pa. “We need to make America independent once more,” said Trump in his notably scripted, focused speech from Monessen, Pa.

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PHOTO BY REBECCA NUTTALL
  • Photo by Rebecca Nuttall
3. Gun-reform legislation was the subject of a local press conference this week. The event, attended by Mayor Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus, U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle, gun-violence victims and representatives from gun-reform organization CeaseFire PA, aimed to carry the momentum created by the U.S. House Democrats recent sit-in. "[Your representatives] need to hear from you. If you live in their districts, you need to call them on the phone and say 'We want you to vote; we want a vote on gun control,'" Doyle told the crowd. Last week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down a state law that pre-empted municipalities' local gun laws, allowing the NRA to sue.

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PHOTO BY REBECCA NUTTALL
  • Photo by Rebecca Nuttall
4. Protesters against coal rallied outside of a Bureau of Land Management's Pittsburgh hearing on the future of mining on public lands. The hearing was one of six around the nation; the bureau manages 570 million acres of publicly owned coal-mining fields. "These lands need to be managed and are managed under law for multiple use. That's parks, wildlife, recreation, extractive uses — oil, gas, coal-mining — and grazing. But there isn't supposed to be undue degradation," said Jim Lyon, vice president for conservation policy for the National Wildlife Federation, at the rally.

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5. In honor of Amusement Ride Safety Week, Pa. Secretary of Agriculture Russell C. Redding took in some quality riding time at Kennywood Park. According to the Pa. Department of Agriculture, which oversees amusement park safety in the state, 70 percent of injuries that occur on rides result from rider error. "As everybody is rushing to their favorite amusement park and thinking about fun, we also want them to think about safety," Redding said during a press conference at the park.

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CP FILE PHOTO BY HEATHER MULL
  • CP File Photo by Heather Mull
6. Allegheny County Health Department late this week announced a draft permit for the Cheswick coal-fired power plant. The new permit would require the plant to lower its smog-forming emissions - nitrogen oxides, or NOx. Last year, City Paper profiled advocates and residents who were campaigning for a tighter permit.

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On our Sound Bite podcast:

PHOTO BY CELINE ROBERTS
  • Photo by Celine Roberts
On our Sound Bite podcast this week, food-and-booze writer Celine Roberts buzzes around Pittsburgh's beehives with Randall Hall of BEEBOY honey, a local urban-honey company.

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From the pages of our print edition:

Do you like pets? So do we. That's why we've devoted an entire issue to Pittsburgh pets, their quirky owners and fun animal-focused events and locations. Here are a few highlights:

PHOTO BY JOHN COLOMBO
  • Photo by John Colombo

PHOTO BY LUKE THOR TRAVIS
  • Photo by Luke Thor Travis
diy-cat-toy-37.jpg

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This week in City Paper history:

cp25boxedcover_26.jpg

On July 1, 2010, Charlie Deitch looked at how the racing business was booming at Meadows Casino. This story examined not only the resurgence of the industry but also the need for it to begin attracting regular fans to make the industry self-supporting. While racing prizes increased, the amount wagered by gamblers has steadily decreased along with the fan base, and that has made for an uncertain future. As Daniel Tufano of the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission put it, “If we don’t start appealing to a younger demographic, this sport is going to die through attrition.” Read more about this week in City Paper history.

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Pittsburgh gives the furries its annual warm welcome

Posted By on Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 11:49 AM

Sirens blasting, a fire truck came racing down Penn Avenue toward the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. As the sound grew intense, furries waiting to cross the street began to playfully howl and bark. Locals enjoying their lunch outside on a sunny Thursday afternoon smiled.

It’s this natural friendliness that has brought Books, a furry from Virginia, back to Anthrocon after attending his first convention last year.

“Every single one of [the other cons] didn’t have the same atmosphere,” Books said as he munched on a sandwich with his friends at Fernando’s Café — a favorite furry hangout that is rechristened Furnando’s for the weekend.

Slideshow
Anthrocon
Anthrocon Anthrocon Anthrocon Anthrocon Anthrocon Anthrocon Anthrocon Anthrocon

Anthrocon

Click to View 40 slides



Sitting next to Books was Tanuki, also from Virginia. Joining them at the table were fellow furries from Indiana and Texas.

“I’ve been going to [Anthrocon] for as long as it’s been in Pittsburgh,” Tanuki said. “Everyone is so cool. … Pittsburgh treats us like royalty.”

Take a quick stroll around the convention center and you quickly pick up that vibe. Most shops and restaurants had chalk boards out front with some variant of “Welcome Furries!”, while the paw-print logo of the festival — in its 20th year, and eleventh in the ’Burgh — crawled across some shop windows.

Anthony Muto is one of the entrepreneurs who awaits the arrival of costumed customers every year.

“I’ll be here all weekend,” Muto said as he pulled hot dogs off the grill of his lunch cart, just outside the convention center. His stand is normally “a lunch-hour thing” for business folks needing quick grub, but he extends his hours into the late evening for hungry Anthrocon visitors.

Con-goers shouted greetings at Muto as they went by, the out-of-town “regulars” Muto knows from five years at the corner of Tenth and Penn. His stand, normally emblazoned with “Firehouse Franks,” had a sticker over the “fire” — replacing it with “fur”.

“They love feeling accepted,” Muto said.

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Author of book on housing and segregation in Pittsburgh tomorrow

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 5:06 PM

Chicago-based journalist Natalie Moore visits the Barnes & Noble at the Waterfront, in West Homestead, with her new book The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation (St. Martin’s Press).

Natalie Moore
  • Natalie Moore
The books explores government policies that have kept Chicago segregated by race. Moore argues that race (rather than class) is the defining factor in inequality and a pervasive feature of life there.

The critically acclaimed book should have resonance nationally, and perhaps especially in Pittsburgh, where segregation is rife and where many say an influx of new development (hello, East Liberty!) has left many longtime residents, in particular African Americans, without affordable housing.

“While mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel have touted Chicago as a ‘world-class city,’ it remains one of the most segregated cities in America,” according to press materials for The South Side. “And while it would be easy to think of a city with a billion-dollar park, Michelin-rated restaurants, waterfront views, world-class shopping, and a thriving theater scene as a model for other metropolitan areas, underneath the shiny façade lurks the horrible reality of deeply-rooted and destructive racial segregation.”

Moore grew up in Chicago’s South Side and is the South Side bureau reporter for WBEZ-FM, Chicago’s NPR station. In the past, she’s worked for Detroit News, St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Associated Press in Jerusalem. Her journalism has also been published in national outlets including Essence and In These Times.

Moore will be at Barnes & Noble for an informal discussion from 7-9 p.m. tomorrow. The event is free.

The store is located at 100 West Bridge St.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Pittsburgh activists and officials call on lawmakers to pass gun-reform measures

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 5:20 PM

Mayor Bill Peduto and CeaseFire PA's Shannon Williams - PHOTO BY REBECCA ADDISON
  • Photo by Rebecca Addison
  • Mayor Bill Peduto and CeaseFire PA's Shannon Williams
Thanks to advancements in technology, many smartphones can only be accessed through fingerprint recognition. Why can't the same technology be applied to firearms?

It's one of several questions Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto posed at a press conference earlier today on gun violence. Surrounded by local activists and elected officials, Peduto proposed a number of possible solutions for reducing gun violence in the wake of recent mass shootings like the Orlando,Fla., attack earlier this month where 49 were killed. 

"In no other situation in this country do 30,000 people die every year of something we can identify and we simply say there's nothing we can do about it," said Peduto. "There are common-sense solutions and small steps we can take to lower that number."

Today's event comes a week after House Democrats in Washington, D.C., staged a sit-in on the House floor to call for a vote on two pieces of gun-reform legislation. One, dubbed, "no fly, no buy" would prevent suspected terrorists on the federal no-fly list from purchasing a firearm. The other would ensure universal background checks on all gun sales, closing a loophole that allows some private sales without a background check.

Last week's sit-in was preceded by a nearly 15-hour filibuster on June 15 spearheaded by Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut in an effort to compel a vote on a "no fly, no buy" measure and expanding background checks. The measures were voted down in the Senate on June 20.

"The ball is in your court now," said U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle, who represents Pittsburgh and participated in the sit-in. "[Your representatives] need to hear from you. If you live in their districts, you need to call them on the phone and say 'we want you to vote; we want a vote on gun control.'"

The event was part of the National Day of Action to Disarm Hate, an effort to maintain the momentum spurred by recent demonstrations at the federal level. But today's speakers also highlighted legislative steps lawmakers can take locally.

In 2008, Pittsburgh City Council passed their own measure to combat instances of gun violence like the most recent local example in Wilkinsburg, where six were killed in April. That measure, the city's lost- and stolen-gun ordinance, would require gun owners to report if their guns are lost or stolen.
 
It was aimed at straw purchasing: when a person purchases a firearm for someone who is legally prohibited from obtaining one. Under the ordinance, gun owners who do not report their weapons lost or stolen would be fined. But more importantly, advocates of the ordinance say police would be able to track straw purchasers who claim their gun was lost or stolen only after it has been used to commit a crime.

To date, the city says they have not implemented the ordinance under threat of lawsuit, despite promises after it passed to do so. In 2013 while he was running for mayor, Peduto in fact pledged to enforce it. In 2014 the Pennsylvania state legislature passed a law that would allow the National Rifle Association to sue municipalities with gun ordinances like Pittsburgh's.

However, that law was overturned by the Commonwealth Court last year, and last week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the decision.  

"The Supreme Court struck down [the 2014 law] a few days ago," City Council President Bruce Kraus said at today's press conference. "And yet I'm told by CeaseFire PA that action is already mobilizing to reintroduce it in some way, shape or form so our federally elected and state elected [officials] can punish local elected [officials] like my self and like my mayor who are willing to stand up and speak for you and say enough is enough."

The city has not indicated whether they will implement the lost and stolen ordinance now that the 2014 law has been defeated. Kraus did not respond to a request for comment. But according to an article by The Morning Call, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski plans to reinstate his city's ordinance, which was enacted in 2008, the same year Pittsburgh passed theirs.

At today's event, several victims and those impacted by gun violence spoke in an effort to persuade lawmakers to pass gun-reform measures. Among them was Rev. Glenn Grayson, a staunch gun control advocate whose passion for the cause was bolstered when his son Jerron was shot and killed in 2010.

"Today is more than just a photo op. It's a call to action against gun violence," Grayson said. "Our lives will never be the same again because of gun violence. Too many individuals whether mentally ill, or straw purchasers [have access to] an assault weapon that takes lives with a hundred rounds. It makes no sense to you or to me."

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