Area nonprofit ready to raise funds, awareness in AIDS Walk

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The 33rd annual AIDS Walk Philly kicks off Sunday morning at the Art Museum, and a Philadelphia-area nonprofit organization that helps those living with the disease will represent, hoping to raise much needed emergency funds. 

Located at 12th and Spring Garden, Bebashi: Transition to Hope is one of the many nonprofits whose clients benefit from the AIDS Fund. The fund provides emergency grants to help those living with HIV and AIDS.

“To help a client pay rent maybe or to purchase some furniture,” said Bebashi spokesperson Brenda Alexander, “or to cover some health care costs that their insurance would not be able to do so, and without the AIDS Fund, we would not be able to do those things.”

Alexander says the group will be on hand tomorrow, giving out free items and educating people on sexual health and more. They’ll also be spreading the word about a new edition to the Bebashi team, a physician assistant who will work at their clinic twice a month.

“He can treat HIV clients on site at Bebashi as well as provide PREP prescriptions. Additionally, he treats anyone who needs services for (Hepatitis C) as well,” said Alexander.

Related: AIDS Walk Philly offers education, prevention and a lifeline

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Viral dancing dad says Down syndrome helped son beat cancer

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The South Jersey man who went viral for dancing by his toddler’s crib as he was battling cancer stole the hearts of millions last year after a pop star reposted the video. Now, they’re on the groove again. 

2-year-old Kristian is 11 months cancer free. In a celebration video with his dad, he waved his hands to the music and even sang a couple of ad-libs. His dad, Kenny Thomas, said his recovery was supposed to be around 300 days, but only took half that time.

“His down syndrome actually helped his situation,” said Thomas. He said the surivival rate for the cancer Kristian was diagnosed with—leukemia—is usually 30-40%, but his extra chromosome gave him an 80-90% chance of survival.

“My family has a lot of faith,” Thomas said. “We prayed and we created a positive atmostphere around our son, and it paid off.”

All of that is a reason to keep dancing. From being feautured on The Steve Harvey Show to meeting pop and R&B singer Ciara, it’s been quite a year for the Thomas family. 

“I think he’s just living his best life right now,” Thomas said of his son. The toddler’s adorable smile and sweet dance moves continue to steal hearts on social media. 

“He’s like the king of the world,” he said, “and he just knows that he brings people positive love and joy. Anytime that he goes into a room he just lights up the entire place.”

It hasn’t all been easy. The family owned a dance studio, but had to close it down in order to focus on Kristian’s treatment. They struggled with bills and have started a GoFundMe.

But Thomas said Kristian is going to continue making appearances, as a motivational speaker sharing their story and the power of positivity, with hopes of inspiring others facing adversities. 

“Yesterday is gone, tomorrow will worry about itself and today is all we got,” he said. “Work within that day and kill it that day. Worry about tomorrow when it gets here.”

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New art exhibit sharing immigrant stories debuts

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — One of the most popular tourism spots on South Street, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, has partnered with a local nonprofit to produce an immersive art exhibit that sheds light on immigrant stories.

The temporary exhibit is called Vidas Suspendidas, or Suspended Lives, and features “self-portrait” statues by nine Latinx artists spread out around the massive 3,000-square foot space. The project was created in partnership with Puentes de Salud, a wellness nonprofit for Philly’s Latinx immigrant community, and runs through November 18.

“It’s very emotional for us,” explained Emily Smith, executive director of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, “because it’s our friends and our family members and the people that we love that are affected by this.”

It’s also emotional because every artist tells their personal journey of being a Latinx immigrant in the US. Visitors can listen to each story by scanning the QR code at each statue. 

“And even people that don’t think they are affected by this are,” said Smith. “Being able to give a moment for our visitors to contemplate that, and hopefully to get people to listen to other peoples stories is what we’re hoping to do here.”

Lead artist Nora Litz, of Puentes de Salud, said their goal is to bring light to the invisible stories of the Latinx immigrant community she serves.

“The idea of the stories and the self-portraits and the size of them,” said Litz, “is because we’re surrounded by people that are immigrants and they have stories and they’re human beings, with a heavier burden.”

Visitor Maria Schatzman said it was a learning eperience for her. 

“You think about the people coming to the country,” she said, “but you dont know what happens once they’re here, the struggles that they face and how ongoing it is.”

Though the stories of fear, trauma, uncertainty, and abandonment are not easy to listen to, Litz said at Magic Gardens, they’re safe. 

“The way they’re embraced here at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens,” said Litz, “it’s like they belong here, they’re protected here.”

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Gone Cold:15 years since young man killed inside Upper Darby

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It has been 15 years since a young man was stabbed in the heart inside a bar in Upper Darby. The case has been profiled on KYW Newsradio’s original podcast Gone Cold, and the family is still seeking answers or tips from the public.

Jason Richardson went to the Terminal Square Bar in Upper Darby on Oct. 16, 2004. A fight broke out, and the 22-year-old was nicked in the heart with a knife as he tried to break up the fight.

“They just took a person — a good person who wouldn’t hurt anyone — away,” said Leola Richardson, his mother. 

Leola says Jason was known as the peacekeeper in his West Philadelphia neighborhood.

“One summer, two of his friends got ready to fight, and he goes out and he goes to try to break them up because that is the type of person he was. And I told him, I told him, ‘Jason, stop doing that, because you will be the one to get hurt,'” she said. 

Authorities say hundreds of people were in the bar but no one has come forward to say what they may have seen or know. 

Leola and her family beg anyone with information to come forward.

“The pain doesn’t go away, it doesn’t really get better, you just learn to deal with it,” she added. 

Anyone with any information, even the slightest tip on Jason’s case, is asked to call Upper Darby police.

For more on this story, listen to Episode 1 of the KYW Newsradio original podcast Gone Cold: Philadelphia Unsolved Murders, by Kristen Johanson and Tom Rickert. Subscribe to Gone Cold wherever you get your podcasts.

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Villanova students return from eye-opening mission trip

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Many college students are wrapping up fall break, but some from Villanova University’s engineering department are returning from international trips where their sights were set on helping others. 

Madagascar, Tanzania, Ghana, Panama and Peru. That’s where 30 Villanova engineering students spent the last week working to plan clean water systems or build sustainable energy systems. 

Jordan Ermilio, director of the Villanova Engineering Service Learning Center (VESL), said these are not resort spots.

“Very often people will travel several hours on a daily basis, or the services that they do have are not reliable,” he said. “Fifty percent of the time or something like that, you turn on your faucet and there’s no water coming out of it.”

Lizzy Cullen, a recent graduate who did four VESL trips with the last one this summer in Madagascar, said it was eye-opening. 

“It just makes you rethink what a service project should aim to do. And it helps you see with a larger lens how communities really struggle, compared to what we think struggling is,” she said. 

Related: Villanova’s new biodiversity research center wants to make findings more understandable to public

Ermilio, who has joined the students in the field, said this is not just about helping others. 

“It really changes the way that you see the world, the way that you see your role in global issues, so I think that’s one of the main impacts that these projects have on us,” he said. 

Cullen said after her first VESL trip, she was hooked and couldn’t get enough of it. She recently was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and is leaving for Malaysia in January to continue her international work.

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Last stop for Mt. Airy’s Trolley Car Diner

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — If you’ve driven along Germantown Avenue in Mount Airy at any point over the past two decades, you’ve probably noticed the Trolley Car Diner.

Tuesday was your last chance to step inside and get some food as the popular diner closed for good after nearly 20 years in business.

“It’s bittersweet,” said hostess Lori Lindquist. “It’s been a beautiful experience. If these walls could talk they’d have a lot to say. It’s been an amazing ride.”

She’d worked at the diner since it opened in 2000 and said she’s going to miss all the customers and her coworkers, who she called her “family.”

Related: Trolley Car Diner in Mount Airy to close after nearly 20 years

“One of the waitresses and the busser who used to both work here, they wound up meeting here and getting married here,” she shared with KYW Newsradio. “We’ve all grown very close. A lot of great memories are held in a lot of people’s hearts because of the Trolley Car Diner.”

Steven Wisser used to live in Mount Airy and drove in from Reading to enjoy one final Trolley Car Diner omelet, which he calls the “best in the world.”

“I try to make it a regular visit for breakfast and for care of my soul, this place has always done that,” he said. “You feel like when you come in, you’re eating with family. There are really kind people who will sit at the counter and pick up your check. It’s made this one of the nicest, kindest places in Mount Airy.”

In fact, Lindquist, who’s lived in Mount Airy her entire life, said “the Trolley Car Diner definitely brought the life back into Mount Airy when it came.”

Dorrine McKinney is another regular who came for last call and said she used to eat at the diner once or twice a week.

“It’s always a place you can come that you can call your home,” she said. “It’s kind of like having a home-cooked meal without you actually having to make it.”

She enjoyed her final meal there with her niece, who she said used to go to the diner even more than her aunt. 

“It’s kind of like losing a family member,” added McKinney. “We’ll never forget, it’s just a matter of we won’t be able to come here again.”

Behind one of the counters is a photo collage of all the current and past employees.

The diner auctioned of some memorabilia to customers. 

That money goes to charity.

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Philly native starring in ‘Rent’ visits alma mater

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The national tour of the musical “Rent” is in Philadelphia this weekend at the Merriam Theater. One of its lead cast members is from Germantown and stopped by his high school alma mater to give back. 

Shafiq Hicks, who plays Tom Collins in the Tony Award-winning musical “Rent,” graduated from the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts in 2016. He was a guest vocal teacher at the school on Friday and gave critiques to some of the students.  

Hicks says he owes a lot to CAPA.

“They really teach you how to be a human being and interact in society and be kind, be kind, be kind,” he said. “I learned that lesson here so many times. So with the life lessons and the artistry is what really has shaped, shaped me now. And I got all of that here.” 

Musical theater major Asia Staten sang her heart out in class and says having pros like Hicks offering their expertise is inspiring.  

“Because just knowing that they got as big as they got, and as far as they got and just knowing that that is possible for me, I just have to take the right steps,” she said. “So I’m really excited because that’s just like the light at the end of the tunnel.”

It’s the 20th Anniversary year for the national tour of “Rent.” 

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Labor board says Philly police tattoo policy is legal

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board ruled that the Philadelphia Police Department can keep its 2-year-old policy that prohibits visible, offensive tattoos and extreme “body art.” The Fraternal Order of Police was trying to get it scrapped, but the board sided with the city.

The department didn’t have a policy until an incident in 2016, in which an officer’s tattoo of an eagle and the word “Fatherland” raised a storm on social media because it was interpreted as Nazi symbolism. The FOP had defended the tattoo as “no big deal.” 

The department issued new rules, stating that “a professional and uniform department is critical to advancing public trust and respect.” It didn’t bar tattoos but said officers must cover tattoos that are offensive, extremist, sexist, racist or indecent, or that are visible on the face, neck or scalp. 

The policy has been in place through the FOP appeal, but city solicitor Nicole Morris says the department never established a tattoo review board in the event that an officer disagreed with a commanding officer’s order to cover up a tattoo. 

She hopes now it will.

“It would be comprised of a deputy commissioner, perhaps a peer, and hopefully someone from the FOP so they could weigh in and say, ‘you know what, we don’t think this is offensive, going to be offensive to citizens’ or they might find the opposite,” she said.

Related:

Morris also applauded the decision. 

“Residents deserve to feel safe and offensive images and phrases, no matter where they come from, prevent that sense of safety and sense of comfort,” she said.

The FOP declined comment on the ruling. They could appeal to Commonwealth Court.

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2 brothers convicted of murder for killing man in bar

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Two brothers have been convicted of murder for shooting and killing a man in a West Chester bar. Police say it was over a pickup basketball game.

Tyrell and Timothy Jacobs were both convicted of murder for shooting Eric Brown in April 2018. 

Chester County First Assistant District Attorney Mike Noone says it started with an argument in a basketball game.

“They then proceeded to hunt him down,” Noone said. 

They found him in the Star Social Club in West Chester.

The Jacobs brothers try to get Brown to go outside but he refuses and they start scuffling. Brown runs into the back room of the bar, “Literally running for his life,” Noone said. “When he got the back exit he found it was locked. And at that point Tyrell Jacobs shot him at point blank range, murdering him.”

It was all caught on video, which was key to the conviction. 

Tyrell Jacobs will be sentenced at a later date, but he faces a mandatory life sentence as he was convicted of first-degree murder.

Timothy Jacobs was convicted of third-degree murder and other offenses. 

Noone says it’s too early to say what they’ll seek at sentencing, but it will likely be more than 20 to 40 years in prison.

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SEPTA moving ahead with new 69th Street parking garage plans

UPPER DARBY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — There will be a change in the routines of some SEPTA bus commuters as plans move forward to build a new parking garage at 69th Street Transportation Center. 

Construction bids went out this week for a $31 million parking garage at the 69th Street Transportation Center.  

SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel says the transit system has lost ridership because there was nowhere for them to park here.

“I think some people have really stayed away in the past because we only have 182 parking spaces here. I call it ‘parking roulette,'” he said.

The new garage will have 451 spaces and will include a covered bridge to the terminal. Construction is expected to begin next summer, with completion in about two years. 

Related:

During construction, 5 routes (21, 68, 107, 108, 113) of the 18 bus routes that pass through here will have their stops relocated.  SEPTA is holding open houses to keep commuters in the loop. 

The first one is next Wednesday at 69th Street from 4 to 7 p.m.  

Upper Darby Mayor Tom Micozzie says retailers tell him a lack of parking affects their business.

“There’s a point where it just drops off at the end of the day. They believe that there’s no parking because the commuters are already here,” Micozzie said. 

He expects more business in town after hours, as customers use the garage to shop or attend shows at the Tower Theater.

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Psychiatrist testifies in trial of Keenan Jones

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The head psychiatrist from the Montgomery County jail testified Friday in the trial of the Philadelphia man accused of shooting five people in the Cheltenham Walmart last summer.

Dr. Hani Zaki testified when he met with Keenan Jones two days in the county jail after Jones was arrested for shooting five people at the Walmart on Easton Road, Jones was paranoid, looking over his shoulder as though he was concerned for his safety.

Zaki diagnosed Jones as suffering from PTSD and psychosis, saying Jones was disassociated with the shooting that injured five people in August 2018.

In one report, Jones is quoted saying he panicked when he saw a look in that Walmart, saying that’s the look someone gives you before they shoot you.

All five who were shot survived, but after the shooting, prosecutors say Jones slammed his car into the back of a police cruiser in Philadelphia and injured two officers as they tried to take him into custody.

Related:

Jones’ attorney told the jury before the trial to keep an open mind as she would be asking them to find him not guilty by reason of insanity.

But prosecutors say it was a “cold blooded attempt to kill.” 

Jurors heard from the people who were shot at the Walmart, including a man who says he was just waiting to check out when he simply made eye contact with Jones. Jones pulled a gun from his sister’s waistband and shot that man in the leg, then kept shooting as he ran for the door.

The case is expected to go into next week.

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Philly Grocery Co-op Day promises community focus

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — In a brief ceremony at City Hall on Friday morning, Mayor Jim Kenney declared Saturday the inaugural Philly Grocery Co-op Day. 

Jon Roesser, general manager of Weaver’s Way Co-op, says he hopes Co-op Day brings attention to the benefits of shopping at or being a member of a cooperative business.

“With co-ops, there tends to be a lot less economic leakage where money is going outside of the region,” Roesser said.

He says grocery co-ops greatly support local producers and farmers, and buying local keeps money circulating among small businesses. 

“Weaver’s Way and the four other Philadelphia co-ops combined support over 500 independent local businesses,” he said.

He says there’s a big difference between corporate chains and local businesses.

“Amazon owns Whole Foods, and Acme is a division of the Albertsons Corporation, and Giant is a division of the Ahold Delhaize Corporation. And so, those big corporate chains, they’re here to extract profit from our region, where co-ops and locally owned independent grocers are members of the community,” Roesser said.

Annette Griffin, board president of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, or PACA, says with local money comes local influence.

“When you start having businesses in your community owned by members of the community, you can take control of your community,” Griffin said.

She also says co-ops aid in the fight for social and food justice.

“And co-ops have been a way for Black and brown people throughout history to work together to establish something for themselves.”

Roesser said if you live in a community where there’s no grocery store nearby, and you’re waiting for a for-profit chain to put one in your community, don’t. 

“Instead,” he said, “get organized with your neighbors, pool your resources together and open up your own store.”

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Penn students call to fire professor over offensive remarks

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Minority law student groups at the University of Pennsylvania are calling for the dismissal of a professor who they say is offensive. 

The students claim professor Amy Wax has been delivering remarks that are racist, bigoted and homophobic over the years.

Vox reported in July of this year that, on a National Conservatism Conference panel about immigration, she said “our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites.” And she reportredly said that immigrants are too loud and responsible for an increase in litter. Last year, she came under fire for questioning the academic aptitude of Black students and suggesting that some Black students shouldn’t go to college. And she wrote in a 2017 Inquirer op-ed that “all cultures are not equal,” despite the modern “obsession with race.” 

“Given her consistent history of these statements, I imagine she will continue to espouse them as long as their are no consequences,” said JiLon Li, co-president of Penn’s Asian Pacific American Law Students Association.

Several minority law student groups on campus are demanding Wax be fired, and they want the university to work with them so students feel more welcome at the law school.

“And one of the reasons why this is important to us is because I think this allows the law school to communicate that there is a permanent space at Penn Law for students of color and that professor Wax and her idea that people of color don’t belong is outdated and won’t be accepted,” Li said.

Li says discussions with the administration are set for next month. Among the things, students are asking for a designated space for their meetings and additional opportunities in law clerk programs.

A request for a response from the law school has yet to be returned.

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Youth detention worker says she’s barred from wearing hijab

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A Delaware woman has filed federal and state discrimination complaints saying she’s being barred from wearing a hijab at work.

News outlets report 35-year-old Madinah Brown held a news conference Thursday near the New Castle County Detention Center in Wilmington where she works. 

Brown’s complaint says she was forced to clock out early several times for wearing a hijab, a headscarf worn by some Muslim women. Brown is represented by lawyers from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families declined to comment on Brown’s complaint. But Cabinet Secretary Josette Manning says a person’s job may require certain actions, such as physically restraining a youth, that makes some religious clothing unsafe. She says the department may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

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5 mumps cases at Ridley High School

FOLSOM, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Ridley High School officials say five people at the school — one student, three staff members, and a student teacher — have come down with a case of the mumps, and they may have been exposed to the virus within the last few weeks.

Officials say those who are vaccinated have a really low chance of getting the mumps, but it’s still possible for them to contract the disease.

So, they’re urging members of the Ridley High community to be aware of the symptoms: swelling of one or both salivary glands, fever, headache and muscle aches, feeling tired and a loss of appetite. Go to the doctor’s office if there are any symptoms. And those who haven’t been vaccinated, officials strongly urge them to get caught up.

Ridley School District Superintendent Lee Ann Wentzel said the vaccination rate at the high school, which has over 1,800 students, is 99.997%. She said there are a couple of students who are immunocompromised and cannot receive the vaccine who are being accommodated with class work outside of the school for the time being.

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