Top 5 Live – Tuesday May 19

Written by on May 19, 2015

1. Obama lauds Camden police; ‘city is on to something’

Camden’s recently formed police force has made headway in cutting crime and gaining the trust of the community, but still has a way to go and cannot lift the struggling city by itself, President Obama said Monday.

“No one is suggesting that the work is done,” the president said after lauding drops in violent crime in a city that for years has been at or near the top of the list of most violent cities in America.

Comparing 2012 – the year before the new Camden County Police Department was formed – to 2014, Obama noted that violent crime was down 24 percent, and the number of murders cut in half.

“This city is on to something; you’ve made real progress in just two years,” he said.

But he said struggling communities such as Camden need attention from more than just their police.

Poor communities should be embraced as “part of America, too,” he said.

“We can’t ask police to contain and control problems the rest of us aren’t willing to fix,” Obama said, citing Baltimore and Ferguson.

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2. Obama to ban military weapons sent to local police departments

President Barack Obama announced new efforts to demilitarize America’s police departmentson Monday, telling an audience in Camden, New Jersey that heavily-armed police forces have left many local residents feeling alienated and intimidated.

“We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force,” Obama said. “We’re going to prohibit some equipment made for the battlefield that is not appropriate for those police departments.”

Obama’s announcement on the ban on the transfer of some types of military weapons to local police departments signals a continued draw down sparked by the militarized show of force in Ferguson, Missouri last summer that exacerbated withered trust between police and communities.

The ban is part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to ease tensions between police and communities of color across the country, including Ferguson and Baltimore, theaters of unrest following the deaths of unarmed black men killed by police.

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3. Philly D.A. to charge four election officials with fraud

As he has done for election after election, District Attorney Seth Williams promised Monday that his team of prosecutors will protect the sanctity of the vote in Philadelphia.
This year he also announced that arrest warrants were issued Monday for four election officials in the 18th Ward, 1st Division on charges of fraudulently adding six votes by tampering with voting machines at North Philadelphia’s Hancock Recreation Center, 1401 N. Hancock St., during the 2014 general election. Three of the four also lived outside the division where they worked, another violation of the election law.
He promised that if he receives information of other election officials not living in the wards in which they work, and “if it rises to the order” of prosecution, he would take action.
Records from past elections show that some people have continued to vote in their old Philadelphia neighborhoods long after they have moved out of the wards – or even out of the city.
But the four individuals that Williams identified in the news conference allegedly went beyond that level of transgression.
Williams said the election judge, minority inspector, and 2 machine inspectors were charged with a variety of election law violations because they also worked together to add six votes to the total tally.
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4. Waco, Texas, Biker Gang Members Face ‘Organized Crime’ Charges in Brawl After 9 Dead

Waco police now say 170 suspected gang members were arrested after a meeting between rival Texas biker gangs at a restaurant turned into a deadly brawl, and many are being charged with engaging in organized crime.

Nine people died in the incident — eight at the Twin Peaks restaurant and one at the hospital, in killings Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton characterized as capital murder.

Eighteen people were taken from the scene to hospitals, mostly for gunshot and stab wounds, Swanton said at a news conference. Everyone involved was a gang member, police said.

“This was a true gang fight that occurred at this location,” Swanton said earlier Monday, adding that the people involved were using brass knuckles, knives and guns.

Police originally reported that 192 people were arrested. That number was revised to 170.

“Those individuals are being charged with engaging in organized crime, in reference to the shooting at Twin Peaks, which is a capital murder,” Swanton said.

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5. Fixing the school to prison pipeline

I envision my son one day embarking upon the science career he desires. I expect my daughter to attend an Ivy League law school, where she’ll use her gifts of deduction and reason to level the scales of justice.

I know there are thousands of children with similar visions. Unfortunately, our city’s leaders seem to have a different end in mind for the children of Philadelphia.

While our public schools are projecting an $85 million deficit with no certain way to fill the gap, City Council is considering Bill150406, which was sponsored by 6th District Councilman Bobby Henon with the support of the Nutter administration.

The bill authorizes the City to purchase a 58-acre tract of land at 7777-R State Rd., for up to $7.26 million.

That land would be used to replace the aging House of Correction with a new prison that would cost up to $500 million to construct.

How, in a city that can’t find $85 million for education, can we find $500 million for a prison?

How, in a city where the victims and perpetrators of violent crime are largely high school dropouts, can we pretend not to see the correlation? How, in a city where 1 of 5 citizens lacks a high school diploma, can we even begin the process of funding prisons before schools?

If we refuse to stand up for our children in this moment, we are complicit in feeding them to the school to prison pipeline.

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