Welcome to Monday, Philly. You might want to grab an umbrella today, as there's still rain in the area this morning. Philly is in the national spotlight today after two African American men were arrested in a Starbucks in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood last week, sparking protests and outrage from all corners of the city. Before an employee called the police, the two men were doing what everyone does in Starbucks: hanging out, waiting for a friend. Investigations have been launched, new protests are planned, and this story is still developing. In other news, the final installment of the ProPublica and Inquirer investigation into Philly's ICE office has been released, and it focuses on the accountability (or lack thereof) of arresting officers. Let's jump in.
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Dozens of protesters took over the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce Streets Sunday afternoon and more protests are planned for today to demand the firing of the store's manager, who called the police Thursday when two African American men who were waiting for a friend were asked to leave and refused.
Video of the two men being handcuffed and arrested quickly went viral, sparking national outrage and prompting responses from Police Commissioner Richard Ross, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke and more. No charges were ever filed, and the mayor's office and the Philadelphia Police Department are launching investigations into the incident.
Starbucks has launched its own investigation and issued a statement from its CEO, who is in Philadelphia today to meet with the two men and offer an apology. Beyond an apology, columnist Jenice Armstrong believes Starbucks should fire the employee who called the police.
Federal agents in Pennsylvania have aggressively embraced a Trump administration directive to focus on deporting undocumented immigrants. The Philly Immigration and Customs Enforcement office arrests more immigrants without criminal convictions than any other office in the country.
Among those arrests, however, an investigation by ProPublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer has found numerous cases in which ICE agents and police officers allegedly engaged in racial profiling, fabricated evidence, and even solicited a bribe. Yet rarely is the conduct of arresting officers scrutinized in immigration courts, where the backlog reached an all-time high in March. Don't miss the final installment of this dual investigation, No Sanctuary: Crush of Cases, Less Scrutiny.
Read No Sanctuary:
For those who row on the Schuylkill River, it's simple math. A typical scull boat is 14 inches deep. On a recent day, the water at the end of a Boathouse Row dock measured 16 inches. The river desperately needs to be dredged.
The problem, of course, is money. Dredging the Schuylkill will cost $4.5 million and its fate is in the hands of the Army Corps of Engineers. Their headquarters claims there's no commercial value to the project. If layers of silt aren't removed, the shallow river's regatta business, which generates millions of dollars locally, will be in serious jeopardy over the next few years.
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