Philly grad among nightclub carnage honored with street sign

July 7, 2017

tribune staff writer

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson unveiled a new street sign honoring Akyra Murray, an 18-year-old Philadelphian who was killed during last year’s Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla.

Murray had recently graduated from high school when she was fatally shot in an attack on the gay nightclub. The West Catholic High School graduate and basketball player was the youngest of 49 massacre deaths, blamed on a lone gunman, Omar Mateen, on June 12, 2016.

Johnson had the 7300 block of Chelwynde Avenue renamed “Akyra Murray Way.” Speakers at the event included the teen’s father, Albert; her brother Alex; and her former high school basketball coach, Beulah Oseuke.

In addition, Johnson honored the members of Boyz II Men at the Wawa Welcome America program on Independence Day. The event was to honor Boyz II Men for their accomplishments and contributions to the city, a press release about the event said.

Councilwoman kicks off return of salsa celebration

Simpre Salsa Philly Week, co-sponsored by Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez, kicked off earlier this week with a celebration of salsa music that runs through July 11.

The event was launched with the help of Quinones in 2015 with the aim of creating a citywide nod to Latin dance style. On Thursday, the councilwoman will host the Siempre Salsa Philly Week reception and awards presentation.

The program, held at City Hall’s Conversation Hall, featured honorees Ray Collazo, Chino Nunez and Willie Ruiz. Other Siempre Salsa events will be held at Parx Casino, the Piazza at Schmidt’s Commons, the Painted Bride Art Center and Lucha Cartel.

Salsa Night will be held Friday at the Piazza at Schmidt Commons, and PECO’s Hispanic Fiesta featuring Frankie Vazquez is scheduled Saturday at Penn’s Landing.

Sheriff’s Office makes arrests in citywide raid

One murder suspect was among the 34 men and women wanted for serious offenses who were arrested during a citywide raid. The Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office made the arrests in the early morning hours of Saturday, July 1.

The Sheriff’s Office was assisted by officers from the Philadelphia Police Department in the sweep.

“Many of those captured had several outstanding warrants against them on charges that ranged from murder, failure to pay child support — one who owed in excess of $85,000, assault, endangering the welfare of a minor, witness intimidation and unlawful contact with a minor,” Sheriff Jewel Williams said in a release about the sweep.

Williams said it is the job of the men and women in the Sheriff’s Office to keep dangerous people out of Philadelphia’s communities.

“As a parent, I’m especially concerned with the families that suffer when one or more members of a household are cited with domestic abuse creating a violent and hostile environment,” Williams said in a release about the arrests. “I say to all; hold your tempers, lay down your arms, and protect your loved ones for a summer of peace.”

City celebrates funding for low-income renters

When Council passed the city’s $4 billion budget, they approved a measure providing $500,000 in new funding for supports for low-income renters facing eviction.

The money will help bolster legal assistance for the renters, in what city leaders called an historic investment.

“By taking this step to expand right to counsel for people facing eviction, our city is joining the forefront of a national movement to protect and support low-income people fighting for their rights,” Councilwoman Helen Gym said in a press release.

The funding comes after hearings led by Gym and Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez in partnership with other legal and justice organizations exposed the need for legal assistance for renters facing eviction and issues with substandard rental properties.

“We know that the primary factor driving the outcome in eviction cases is access to legal representation or advice, and that evictions disproportionately impact communities and families of color,” Gym said. “I look forward to continuing to grow this work and protect Philadelphians’ human right to quality housing.”

Germantown police district leader to attend safety forum

Rep. Stephen Kinsey (D-201) hosted a public safety meeting at Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley in the city’s Germantown section.

“It is important that we equip residents with the skills necessary to keep our communities safe,” Kinsey said in a release about the meeting. “No one knows our neighborhoods more than the people who live in them.

“That is why it is even more important that we work together to build healthy and sustaining communities. Meetings like these are important in establishing goals to create community change and seeing them through,” he said.

Kinsey will give residents strategies to increase safety through a partnership with the Duval Improvement Association.

Police Captain John Hearn of the 14th Police District will also attend the meeting and be available to meet neighborhood residents.

13 killed in car crashes over holiday weekend

Pennsylvania State Police investigated more than 700 vehicle crashes over the Independence Day holiday, which span from July 1 to 4.

During the holiday period, 741 crashes resulting in 13 fatalities and 259 injuries occurred across Pennsylvania, and state police reported that 75 of the crashes were alcohol-related.

Last year during the same period, there were 423 crashes with three fatalities and 165 people injured. Of the accidents, 52 were alcohol-related in 2016, according to state authorities.

As part of Fourth of July driving enforcement efforts, police made 474 arrests for driving under the influence and issued 11,482 speeding citations. Comparably, police made 447 DUI arrests and issued 9,100 speeding citations during the holiday weekend last year.