Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Temple News: Warm Hearts offers help, warmth for the homeless

Warm Hearts offers help, warmth for the homeless

October 31, 2011 by Dominique Johnson
Filed under Opinion

Fareeda Mabry, founder of Operation Warm Hearts, recognizes the need to keep Philadelphia’s homeless warm this winter through organizing blanket drives.

Last year, Philadelphia native Fareeda Mabry, 33, started a grass-roots organization known as Operation Warm Hearts with a simple goal in mind: Help those who cannot help themselves. The organization is seeking to collect and distribute 1,701 blankets across the Philadelphia region for those who are unfortunate enough to find themselves trapped in the cold this coming winter.

The organization was formed by Mabry with the help of Justina Shaw from the nonprofit organization, OPPORTUNITIES, and friends Carl Daniels, Nakisha Peterson and Tarisse Iriarte.

“They helped pushed this initiative on the ground by taking donations and playing a major role in the street team,” Mabry said. “We meet people where they are. If they are living on the streets, we go to them.”

Currently Operation Warm Hearts is looking to maintain the relationship that they have with Shaw, by working with OPPORTUNITIES. They also plan to build partnerships with other organizations.

Mabry is a product of Philadelphia’s Olney High School, graduating in 1997. Attending Peirce College and the University of Pennsylvania later, Mabry considers herself a “maverick,” and a community leader who is “from the people and for the people.”

“The same people we elect, some turn to elitism and it is hard for people to relate to them,” Mabry said. “I want people to still relate to me as a sister, a cousin, a daughter, a niece and a friend.”

As housing and social service cuts decrease and the economy continues to pull itself out of a recession, it is estimated that across the country there are approximately 200,000 to 500,000 Americans who are currently homeless. It is estimated that there are approximately 4,000 homeless people in Philadelphia on any given day. This includes those who are in shelters or on the streets.

As a result of the economic downturn, Mabry and her team wanted to address this particular need. Starting out at first by accepting only blankets and comforters, Operation Warm Hearts now accepts items such as soap, toothpaste and shirts.

“We are looking to do a blanket drive every year from [Oct. 1] until March 1,” Mabry said. “As we collect, we give to folks who are in need and also receive requests from low-income families to provide support.”

Last year Operation Warm Hearts serviced more than 800 homeless families and individuals. Mabry hopes to partner with more organizations and political leaders as the organization moves forward, so that they may continue to have blanket drives.

Although its initial goal is 1,701 blankets, Mabry said that she is looking to collect double that number since Operation Warm Hearts is also supporting the Occupy Philly protestors camping outside City Hall.

“Philadelphia grew from a few hundred inhabitants in 1683 to over 2,500 in 1701,” Mabry said, on why the organization chose that number for its goal. “Before William Penn left Philadelphia for the last time on Oct. 25, 1701 he issued the Charter of 1701.”

William Penn envisioned Philadelphia as a ‘City of Brotherly Love,’” Mabry added. “He was realistic enough to know that law, not love, is the mechanism that regulates the interactions of men.”

Currently, Operation Warm Hearts is not holding any blanket drives. Mabry said that she is looking to students, volunteers and others who may be interested in doing them while also increasing Operation Warm Hearts capacity to service more individuals.

“Operation Warm Hearts knows that it is the simple things that can help keep a person going when they are losing everything,” Mabry said.

Anyone interested in volunteering time or donating to Operation Warm Hearts can contact Mabry at 267-707-8979 or email fareeda@fareedamabry.org with the subject line: Operation Warm Hearts.

Dominique Johnson can be reached at dominique.johnson@temple.edu.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Philadelphia Police…Hero or Gestapo? Please don’t taze me bro

Philadelphia Police…Hero or Gestapo?
Please don’t taze me bro

Who moved my McGruff? And who in the hell polices the police? Like many of you I grew up with the images of police as heroes. Our “boys in blue” are here to help people, protect and serve the community and educate with honesty and integrity. As a kid…who was more up standing than an officer? In movies the good guy always wins…McGruff the Crime Dog’s motto was to “take a bite out of crime”…

McGruff image indicated that the police mean a safe refuge. However as time has changed, the role, image and what it means to some to be a police officer has drastically changed from hero to Gestapo.

In recent news, we see many police officers being reprimanded on all sorts of corruption, brutal/terrorist acts, and misconduct. What creates a corrupt cop? Where is the accountability? The police it seems are the only ones who police themselves.  Well, why doesn’t the community trust them? Is there a reason for fear of the police? The many minority and ethnic communities have become a place where trust of the police is obsolete and the code of the streets is “stop snitching”. There is a disconnect between the two.

The community has been victimized by the same people who are sworn into oath under God to protect and serve. Stop snitching is a major unspoken campaign not to mention the aggression and backlash. Stop snitching is a way for the community to protect and serve itself. The people’s revolution will not be televised… For every action there is a reaction. I feel the community reacting to being victims.  No one wants to be targeted, or enslaved. Snitches are the lowest form. A rat, a snake is what they call it. 

Power and the hunger for it corrupts even the most innocent. There is no justification for crime. Crime is merely reactionary. When we look at Marlow’s Hierarchy of Needs, if any of these needs are not met, all hell breaks loose.

We're not anti-police... we're anti-police brutality. 

Al Sharpton

A recent incident that drew national attention, a young man Askia Sabur, brutalized by the Philadelphia Police Department The video link provided captures the violent arrest of Sabur outside a takeout restaurant at Lansdowne Avenue and Allison Streets. This neighborhood although has turned around in many years, is no walk in the park.

Sabur, outside of the restaurant he reminded officers he was “waiting for his food”….how do you go order 3 chicken wings, and some shrimp friend rice and end up your skull cracked open? Sabur was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, and resisting arrest.

The Beating of Askia Sabur

Not sure if Sabur was also charged with robbery…because police claim, Sabur reached for an officer’s gun. When has anyone in African American history seen or heard of a black man who reached or had any kind of weapon and is still alive to speak about it?  The other officers would’ve filled him full of bullet holes.

If you do not believe me, ask Amadou Diallo only 22 at the time of his death… There was no justification in the increased level of force and the level brutality taking Sabur into custody…

Police brutality is an international human and civil rights crises, so much bigger than Philadelphia. From Nigeria to New York, police brutality is an issue. Let’s take Oakland, CA…Oscar Grant, who was shot dead by a transit officer, doing his job a bit too much if you ask me.

The Shooting of Oscar Grant

Not sure why a person would shoot an unarmed person who was not resisting. Grant was faced down and shot in the back…execution style, by the same man who was hired to serve and protect his life. I mean…If you cannot trust the police to protect you…Who can you trust?

Danroy Miller, 20, equally as sad. Promising college student “he was killed by police in Mount Pleasant, N.Y., located about 35 miles north of New York City, according to police and university officials. Henry was behind the wheel of a parked car when police arrived at Finnegan's Grill, in a neighborhood called Thornwood, police said. He allegedly attempted to flee in the vehicle when officers breaking up a nearby brawl approached him”.

Miller’s friends where even beaten when they tried to administer CPR to save his life: http://jonathanturley.org/2010/10/21/new-york-police-accused-of-assaulting-college-students-trying-to-give-cpr-to-friend/.

The police have created an image of brutality, and domestic terrorism. Invoking resistance and fear in the community. Protect and serve or alienate and exterminate? The systematic heavy handed violence of police targeted towards poorer, under resourced and under serviced communities is out of control.

Amnesty International (AI) on American Police Brutality: On its web site, AI says "Police brutality and use of excessive force has been one of the central themes of (AI's) campaigns on human rights violations in the USA," launched in October 1998. In its "United States of America: Rights for All Index," it documented systematic patterns of abuse across America, including "police beatings, unjustified shootings and the use of dangerous restraint techniques to subdue suspects."

Little is done to monitor or constrain it the brutality that is dished out…Racial and ethnic minorities are the ones who are disproportionately harmed by the harassment, false arrest, beatings and terrorism.

For Philadelphia police excessive force seems to be the norm: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/05/07/philadelphia-police-caugh_n_100569.html.

Looking at west African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, shot at 41 times by four New York policemen, struck 19 times and killed while he stood in the vestibule of his apartment building, unarmed and nonviolent, another life snatched….a victim of police brutality. Sabur unlike Miller, Diallo and Grant, he may have gotten his skull cracked open…yet he still has his life.

The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) is the nation's fourth largest police department, with over 6600 sworn members and 800 civilian personnel. The PPD is the primary law enforcement agency responsible for serving Philadelphia County, extending over 140 square-miles in which approximately 1.5 million reside. Geographically, the Department is divided into twenty-two police districts (each headed by a captain), which comprise six police divisions (Northwest, Northeast, East, Central, Southwest, South - each headed by a Divisional Inspector), into two major sections of the city, Regional Operations Command North (ROC North) and Regional Operations Command South (ROC South), each headed by one Deputy Commissioner under Field Operations. Personnel are assigned to work in 55 different locations throughout Philadelphia, with Police Headquarters located in the 6th Police District, in Center City, at 750 Race Street. http://www.phillypolice.com/about

Brutal men with unlimited power are the same all over the world.

In Philadelphia since 2009, “11 officers have been arrested on charges including murder, rape and drug dealing. They are among 51 police officers fired for misconduct since May 2010. Brutal beatings and assaults by Philadelphia police continue particularly in African-American and Latino/neighborhoods”. http://www.workers.org/2011/us/philadelphia_1027/

I thought the idea was to stop and prevent crime before it happen and not perpetuate it. There is a long legacy of brutalization in the community stemming from excessive force from the Philadelphia Police Department.

Most people are aware of the recent police beating of Thomas Jones here in Philadelphia, but fewer people remember the police beating of Delbert Africa in 1978 caught on videotape and broadcast worldwide. This incident prompted the Department of Justice to file the first ever lawsuit against a city for police brutality. In 1985, the police dropped C-4 plastique from a state helicopter on the MOVE house resulting in the death of eleven people including five children. Sixty-one homes were burned to the ground.”

To me a police officer who abuses his badge is no different than a priest who shames the church. Shame...All cops are not bad, and all people are not good. Many victims eventually become victimizers.  The psychological affects of brutality is worse than the beatings. For those who are not killed, some are paralyzed, and suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, aggression, emotional disturbances, drug abuse, suicide and paranoia. Its historical, it’s generational? Brutality, bullying and Gestapo tactics are modern day lynching.  Most importantly what are we teaching our children and our next generation of law enforcement?