Pittsburgh Rallies to “Make Jobs Not War”

29 Mar

Saturday, March 26th, saw hundreds of Pittsburghers rallying to “Make Jobs Not War!”  This event was organized by the Anti-War Committee of the Thomas Merton Center.

People fed up with the amount of money being spent on, what they consider, unjustified wars in Afghanistan, and Iraq and military exercises in Libya stood in solidarity to suggest an alternative to war spending; Job Spending.

The rally started around 47th St in Lawrencville where speakers railed against the U.S government’s foreign intervention, while the U.S fails to provide for its people domestically.

The Thomas Merton Center broke down the amount of Allegheny taxes going to the U.S war efforts and alternative uses:

U.S. taxpayers have already paid over $1,150,000,000,000 for the wars since 2001. As of 2011, the poverty rate in the U.S. is 16%.

Taxpayers in Allegheny County will pay $454.1 million for proposed Afghanistan war spending in FY2011. With that money, we could pay for:

97,949 –people to receive low-income healthcare for a year

293,000 – households to have renewable electricity-wind power for a year

Finally, the rally turned to parade as the attendees marched down Butler Street, to inform their fellow Pittsburghers and neighbors of the unjust spending, and imperialistic aspirations of the U.S government.

 

These are the issues Pittsburgh.  Let’s have a civil conversation.

I’ve Been Waiting a Long Time..A Long Time!

15 Mar

“Pittsburgher’s for Public Transit” will be holding a rally, March 19th, to stop cuts to the Pittsburgh Transit System. The Port Authority faces cuts that would lead to the reduction and elimination of multiple buslines, the loss of jobs and steep fare increases. The transit cuts will affect the lives of most people in Pittsburgh.  Whether you ride the bus to get to work, and your options for travel are decreasing, or you drive, and the roads are becoming crowded with more cars– many Pittsburghers will be affected in their own way.

“Pittsburgher’s for Public Transit” argue that these cuts can be averted and want the people of Pittsburgh to rally in support.  They believe:

The Port Authority faces an unprecedented 47.1 million dollar financial shortfall due to insufficient state and federal funding – a result of the economic crisis caused by the greed of Wall Street banks. The Port Authority proposes a 35 percent cut in all transit service, layoffs of at least 500 unionized workers, fare increases of between 25 cents and 2 dollars, and the complete elimination of service to more than 50 communities. This will be a crippling blow to Pittsburgh and our region, with disastrous consequences for tens of thousands of working people, commuters, students, youth, people with disabilities, and senior citizens!

Further,

Many Pittsburghers rely on public transit for their livelihoods and in their daily lives.
Maintaining and expanding existing public transit is key to Pittsburgh’s efforts to remain one of the “greenest” and “most livable” cities in the U.S.

 If you feel like this affects you, get out there and rally with “Pittsburgher’s For Public Transit.”

If you’re waiting for the bus and wondering, “Why?”  Check out the transit cuts here.

UPDATES:  Check out this week’s, March 16th, City Paper for an update on the transit crisis.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE RALLY

Well Pittsburgh, these are the issues.  Let’s have a civil conversation. 

Pittsburgh Rallies for Women’s Health

25 Feb

Courtesy of Charity Sperringer

 

Wednesday, February 23, saw hundreds of people taking to the streets of downtown Pittsburgh.  Armed with a petition scribbled with over 20,000 signatures, protesters marched to Senator Robert Casey’s office to oppose funding cuts that would affect organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which provide vital health procedures for women across the state and the country.  The organizers describe what’s at stake below:

There has never been a more urgent time to support Planned Parenthood of Western PA and the thousands of patients we serve every year.

As you may know, last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed a historic measure to end Title X funding for reproductive health care and entirely bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding for any purpose whatsoever.

Next week, the U.S. Senate will be voting on these very issues. There could not be a more critical time to let Senator Casey know that these attacks against Planned Parenthood and reproductive health care make it harder – if not impossible – for our patients, and his constituents, to receive the care they need and deserve: annual exams, breast exams, birth control, STI treatment, and life-saving cancer screenings.

These are the issues.  Let’s have a civil conversation.

Councilman Burgess Initiates Bill to Increase Police Accountability

16 Feb

 

 

 

 

 

February 16, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: civilpittsburgh@gmail.com

Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess is proposed Bill 2010-0234 to city council which would require police officers to keep records tracking the race, gender, and age of individuals involved in a police stop and would release that data to the public in an annual report.  In recent years community police relations have deteriorated, especially in Burgess’ own ninth ward, which includes Pittsburgh’s East Liberty and Homewood.  Last night Burgess, along with councilpersons Theresa Kail-Smith, and Bruce Kraus, discussed the legislation with residents and concerned community groups.

Ngani Ndimbi, the community organizer for the ALCU-PA, Pittsburgh chapter commented, “We hope that bringing positive Community-Police relations is the concern of each and every city councilperson. We’re excited to be able to discuss this important piece of legislation tonight.”

The data that the legislation would require officers to obtain and release to the public, is already collected, but not released to the public.   The release of the data to the public would put the Pittsburgh Police in line with many Departments around the country, and could lead to increased police accountability, and stronger community police relations.

“This is not an anti-police bill.  We have to look at this bill as groups and individuals coming together—which includes the police—to promote police-accountability and civil rights in Pittsburgh,” said Todd Wilson the executive director of Civil Pittsburgh.

Don’t hesitate to contact your council person in support of Burgess Bill 2010-0234:

http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/council/

For more information, contact:    

Ngani Ndimbie, Community Organizer
                      ACLU of Pennsylvania, Western Region,  Pittsburgh, PA
(412) 681-7736 x 22; NNdimbie@aclupa.org

   Todd Wilson, Executive Director
                     Civil Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
(717)725-5177; civilpittsburgh@gmail.com

#####

Pittsburgh LGBT Equality Town Hall Meeting

28 Jan

Andy Hoover and Ted Martin Courtesy of Equality PA

Last night at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church,  Equality Pennsylvania in partnership with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, conducted a town hall style meeting addressing LGBT rights in Pennsylvania.

The point of the meeting was to get the conversation started about LGBT rights. This theme would be discussed throughout the night, and further they discussed the need that supporters let it be known that they support the LGBT community to relevant political forces.  The LGBT community lost a number of pro-LGBT candidates in last fall’s election, and now have to deal with a rough political climate which offers no guaranteed rights.  Andy Hoover, the Legislative Director, at the ACLU-PA and Ted Martin a spokesman for Equality PA  facilitated the discussion.

They started off by letting the crowd know that Pennsylvania is one of 30 states that doesn’t have a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and they would work hard to keep it that way.  Ted Martin of Equality PA, wearing an argyle sweater, emphasized that protections against sexual orientation discrimination, while not necessarily a partisan issue, tends to find little support from republicans.  He went on to say, “We need to keep them dealing with the economy and stay away from these ‘controversial’ social issues.  Strategic fracturing of the Republican caucus is important.”

LGBT Townhall Meeting Courtesy of Equality Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh passed a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace and housing nearly twenty years ago and Allegheny County passed a similar ban just a couple of years ag0, in 2009.  The ACLU of Pennsylvania’s website describes the situation for the LGBT community:

No federal law prevents a person from being fired or refused a job on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and the nation’s largest employer – the U.S. military – openly discriminates against gays and lesbians. Twenty-nine states (including Pennsylvania) also lack employment protections based on sexual orientation and 37 states do not protect transgendered people. Although 15 local governments in Pennsylvania have local ordinances prohibiting employment discrimination against LGBT people, approximately 73% of the state’s population remains unprotected.

State representative Dan Frankel, in 2009, proposed HB 300, which would have extended the “right to freedom from

Dan Frankel Courtesy of Equality Pennsylvania

discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation; defining “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression”; and further providing for unlawful discriminatory practices” to all Pennsylvanian’s.  HB 300 failed to gain the support of the legislature and with the new wave of conservative representatives, it seems unlikely that the issue will be raised again for some time.

At the meeting Representative Frankel went on to say that LGBT discrimination is “the last bastion of legalized discrimination…but there is a lack of intensity within the LGBT community.”

Andy Hoover, the ACLU-PA’s legislative director encouraged the crowd to have conversations with their legislators.  He went on to say that constituents need to build relationships with their legislators and let them know that supporters of the LGBT community are in their districts.

Dan Frankel summarized that a majority of his colleagues in the Pennsylvania House claim that they do not even know, or believe that they  have any LGBT constituents in their districts.  This kind of attitude has become enormously frustrating for Frankel, and he finished up by exclaiming, “it is time we finally bring an end to second class citizenship.”

These are the issues Pittsburgh.  Let’s have a civil conversation.

Civil Pittsburgh: An Introduction

1 Jan

Pittsburgh has a diverse, rich and at times a confrontational history in the area of civil rights and civil liberties. Citizens expect their Constitutional rights to be respected, but recent events including the rounding up of protesters/innocent bystanders during the G-20 summit, and the police beating of Jordan Miles make it abundantly clear that we still need to take further steps to uphold our Constitutional rights.

In the following posts and across the website, Civil Pittsburgh will be keeping readers updated on all issues involving civil rights and civil liberties in Pittsburgh. To keep up with civil rights news and information on a more regular basis you can follow us on twitter.

Civil Pittsburgh is currently under construction but will include the following resources:

MY CIVIL RIGHTS WERE VIOLOATED:
This page will simplify the process for individuals seeking to air a grievance concerning a violation of their constitutional rights. In addition, it will be complete with information to contact the relevant officials and organizations, considering where the incident occurred, and their place of residence. This is intended to reduce the “run-around” effect and to allow Pittsburgh residents to be in contact with the people, at the very least, who are in the position to help them.

I WANT TO PROTEST IN PITTSBURGH:
This page will include specific procedures and/or guidelines and permits that the city of Pittsburgh requires to mobilize a demonstration.

PEOPLE EXERCISING THEIR RIGHTS:
This page will include articles and photos about Pittsburghers exercising their constitutional rights. If you want to contribute to this page with photos or an article please contact Civil Pittsburgh.

EVENTS CALENDAR:

This page will include information about events pertaining to civil rights and civil liberties in Pittsburgh. Civil Pittsburgh users will be able to upload their events to the events calendar.

LISTEN:
This page will include audio essays pertaining to civil rights and civil liberties in Pittsburgh. If you want to contribute to this page with photos or an article please contact Civil Pittsburgh.

LET’S WORK TOGETHER:
This page will include contact information to individuals and organizations that are working to promote civil rights and civil liberties in Pittsburgh.

If Civil Pittsburgh works as intended it will lead to a more civil and just Pittsburgh.