September 30, 2015 |
Retired schoolteacher Matt Cinelli came to Philadelphia to experience the joy of the papal visit. He was met, he said, by "the confusion and terror of a police state," one in which edgy National Guard soldiers barked contradictory orders and seemed prepped for confrontation. "The security did not make me feel safe," said Cinelli, 56, who grew up Catholic and lives near Reading. "It made me feel like somebody was going to fight me, that there was a combativeness. " On Monday, hours after Pope Francis left Philadelphia for Rome, people who attended weekend events shared stories of disconcerting encounters with the massive security apparatus erected in advance of the visit.
September 28, 2015 |
Journalists in the Vatican press corps accompanying Pope Francis on his U.S. trip were very impressed with Philadelphia's architecture and street-fair feel when they first arrived. But as the day wore on, many of the media representatives became increasingly soured by the heavy security measures evident throughout the city. As we got off the bus to enter Independence Mall for Francis' address, we were all struck by the line of police cars and security vehicles flanking Sixth Street from Market to Independence Hall.
December 24, 2014
SIX FAMILY members slaughtered by a Montgomery County man who then took his own life. One hundred forty-three, mostly children, killed in a Pakistan school by the Taliban. One hundred sixty-five children kidnapped in Nigeria by Boko Haram. Two New York police shot in cold blood. And that's just last week. The world is never exactly a sane place, but lately it seems that the madness has increased. Few corners of the world are free from strife, from unbearable tensions.
August 21, 2014
REGARDING your editorial "Obstacle Courses" praising the efforts of Dr. William Hite, as you put it, to "fight on . . . behalf" of the schoolchildren of Philadelphia, my question is: Are you serious? The latest in a line of SRC-appointed CEOs of a school system under direct control of Harrisburg, Hite made it his first priority to close or consolidate dozens of district schools while continuing the expansion of privately managed charters. How does that promote public education? The "set-in-their ways" unions, meanwhile, have been working without a contract since last August, resulting in a wage freeze, and saving the district tens of millions.
June 7, 2013
It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer . - Sir William Blackstone That principle, expressed by an English jurist more than 250 years ago, is crucial to the way the laws are applied in the United States, where the presumption of innocence is considered sacrosanct - most of the time. At other times, our zeal to find the guilty can run roughshod over our constitutionally protected rights. Such is the case with the Supreme Court decision this week approving DNA collection from anyone arrested for a crime.
September 7, 2010
Armed government guards got on trains near the border to interrogate capriciously selected passengers about their citizenship and then carted away those who could not produce papers. The Soviet Union? East Germany? Well, no. It was the U.S. Border Patrol on an Amtrak in Rochester, N.Y. - close to the Canadian border. Border Patrol agents can question any person believed to be an alien concerning his or her right to be in America. They can do so within 100 miles from our external boundaries, including the one 12 miles off the coast.
April 7, 2010 |
IWAS HAVING coffee with a friend at 15th and Sansom not long ago when, out of nowhere, a group of teens burst onto the scene. The energy that came with them was palpable. Tense, wired, high-strung - it literally crackled, and we felt it. As it turns out, we'd witnessed a tiny part of a would-be flash mob from Broad Street, and I thought to myself - as I have every time this happens in Philadelphia - "They should be dancing. " Bill Wasik, the senior editor at Harper's who created the flash mob, uses it as a tool for playful social gatherings.
September 30, 2009 |
The world economy may or may not have emerged stronger from last week's G-20 summit in Pittsburgh. And the first non-capital city to host the summit enjoyed the public-relations boon of showcasing its Phoenix-like rise from the ashes of the steel industry. But the Constitution took a hit. Government officials decided a massive, preemptive police presence was necessary to avoid the raucous demonstrations that marred past economic summits. They established a virtual police state that quickly extinguished any spark of dissent, and a federal court ruling gave them free rein to do so. To begin with, there was an oxymoronic requirement that groups get permits to march and demonstrate during the summit.
August 7, 2008 |
For nearly 90 years, state troopers have patrolled rural New Jersey, responding to medical emergencies, car crashes and burglar alarms. So when state officials detailed their plans last week to begin charging towns for the service, the reaction was largely anger and, in some communities, confusion. In Mansfield, which the state wants to bill $264,000 for what it considers "full-time" police patrols, administrator Joseph Broski said the town hadn't relied on state police for two years.
April 9, 2008
Rau's ruling Judge Lisa Rau's acquittal of a man who police eyewitnesses testified was involved in a drug transaction affirms a vitally important point about our criminal justice system ("Judge's verdict draws criticism from police," April 7). Various legal protections - including burdening the prosecutor with proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt - ensure that for every innocent defendant who is found not guilty, there are guilty defendants who go free. Rau did not have to conclude that the police witnesses were lying, or that the defendant was telling the truth in asserting his innocence, in order to find him not guilty.