Cornel West was here; Philly’s surprising police lawsuit price tag; It’s Pot Day!

Newsletter for Monday, Oct. 20

CORNEL WEST IN PHILLY

The civil rights activist spoke at the Free Library on Friday. Via Instagram user @krazol

CORNEL WEST TELLS PHILLY FERGUSON COULD BE ‘THE BIRMINGHAM OF OUR TIME’

Ex-Princeton professor and civil rights activist Cornel West turned heads on Vine Street on Friday, according to Bobbi Booker at the Philadelphia Tribune. Fresh off his headline-making arrest after protesting in Ferguson, Mo., the civil rights leader stepped out of a cab that left Washington, D.C. Why? He had a book to promote, of course. He had a date at the Free Library to talk about his new tome, “Black Prophetic Fire (Beacon Press, $25.95).” And in a fiery speech, West put the shooting in Missouri in a larger context: “Arbitrary police power has been employed all across the country… It’s in Philly; it’s in New York; it’s in Chicago and it’s in Ferguson,” West told the audience. “But Ferguson now has a chance of becoming the Birmingham of our times. It is a catalyst for the awakening — especially for the young people. There has been too much sleepwalking.”

PHILLY HAS PAID OUT A SHITLOAD IN CIVIL SUITS FILED AGAINST POLICE

The city of Philadelphia paid out $40 million as a result of some 600 misconduct lawsuits brought over the last five years, according to a new analysis from MuckRock, a collaborative news site that brings together journalists, researchers, activists and citizens to request, analyze & share government documents. (You can read the Freedom of Information Act request that started this story here.) The two largest settlements — each of which cost the city $2.5 million — centered on police-involved shooting cases, one in 2011 and one in 2012. The city settled 29 shooting lawsuits for a total of $13.1 million in that time. You can read the full story, published earlier this morning, here. For comparison’s sake, New York City paid out a total of $428 million in settlements, MuckRock found.

MARIJUANA IS NOW DECRIMINALIZED: IT’S POT DAY IN PHILLY

Today is the first time you can get $25 ticket for holding a small amount of marijuana in Philadelphia, instead of a $200 fine and a three-hour class on avoiding drug abuse. That makes Philly the biggest city in the country to “decriminalize” marijuana. First in line for one of those new $25 tickets is Michael Whiter, a self-professed pot “enthusiast.” Last week he sat down with local news site The Declaration and Scrapple.TV and talked about his plans.

CITY’S FIRST LGBT DIRECTOR DIES OF CANCER

Gloria Casarez — the director of Mayor Nutter’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs — has died after a battle with cancer. As Philly Mag notes, Casarez helped push through the groundbreaking LGBT Equality Bill that helped Philadelphia earn a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index. “Gloria was a fun, serious, strong and kind person who always wanted to do more for others and who fought for equality of rights for all people,” Nutter’s office said in a statement. “She was a clear, strong voice to the LGBTQ community in Philadelphia and across America.”


TO DO: WATCH ‘BLUE VELVET’ DURING THE PHILADELPHIA FILM FESTIVAL

WHAT: David Lynch’s ‘Blue Velvet,’ the revered (and weird!) filmmaker’s 1986 erotic thriller.
WHERE: The Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street
WHEN: 10 PM
HOW MUCH: $7
DETAILS HERE


BILLY PENN LIKES

VIDEO: FLY THROUGH PHILLY ON THE WINGS OF A DRONE

Think you know the city’s landmarks? You’re no longer moved by the Eastern State Penitentiary, the Please Touch Museum and the Ben Franklin Bridge? Well, strap in, Maverick, because we bet this amazing video from drone pilot David Mialcarek will make you change that tune. Stick around through the end for a surprise.

NEW MARK VETRI JAWN GETS OPENING DATE

Lo Spiedo is superchef Marc Vetri’s way to make rotisserie and grilled meats perfect for your mouth. It will be at the Navy Yard. And it’s got a pre-Halloween opening date, per the Passyunk Post — the “casual bar open for lunch and dinner” opens its doors October 27. On the menu: Whole spit-roasted lamb, chicken and goat, plus vegetables. Yum.

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