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Philadelphia elected officials call for state, local reform of community-police relationships

Harris to host town hall to address community concerns

(Sep 12, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 12 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, announced that he will host a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28 at the Greater Philadelphia Health Action, Inc., 1401 S. 31st St., Philadelphia. Residents in the 186th Legislative District will have the opportunity to hear from Harris about legislative developments in Harrisburg that impact the district. There will be a Q&A portion of the town hall for residents to ask Harris questions directly. Harris and his staff will also be available to provide information on state-related resources available to residents. The meeting is open to the community, and constituents with questions should contact Harris’ district office at 215-952-3378. Media coverage is invited. ### Read more

 

Harris joins Pa. Human Relations Commission and Greater Harrisburg NAACP to take a stand against hate and bias

(Sep 11, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 11 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today joined the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Greater Harrisburg Chapter of the NAACP to take a stand against hate and bias. According to the PHRC and the NAACP, there has been an increase in hate and bias incidents over the past year, including the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. “The actions we have seen in Charlottesville and across our country are unpatriotic and un-American,” Harris said. “Some wish to take us back as a nation. We can’t allow that to happen.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 2016 was an unprecedented year for hate. Anti-Muslim hate groups grew from 34 to 101 last year. In addition, the number of hate groups operating in 2016 rose to 917. “It is our responsibility to stand up and tell our children this is unacceptable,” Harris said. “Standing on the sidelines only allows this behavior to flourish. We must continue to root out systemic injustice wherever we see it. This means meeting people where they are to have discussions on hate and bias. This includes in barbershops, beauty salons, churches, mosques and even on the streets.” “I would like to thank the NAACP and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission for all of their work,” Harris said. “We’re all in this together. We must continue to work Read more

 

Harris Stands with NAACP Against Hate

(Sep 11, 2017)

Chairman of the Pa. Legislative Black Caucus Rep. Jordan Harris joined the Pa. Human Relations Commission and the Greater Harrisburg Chapter of the NAACP to stand together against hate and bias in light of recent acts of racism around the country. Read more

 

PLBC applauds plan to forgive Cheyney University debt

(Aug 24, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 24 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, applauded the board of governors for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s plan to forgive Cheyney University of more than $30 million in loans. Harris said, “I am thankful that the stewards of this nation’s first historically black college have demonstrated their desire and will to take another step in ensuring that the people of this great state continue to have in their treasure chest the crown jewel of black college life. Saving Cheyney is not just the moral responsibility of the university’s governing bodies, but a centerpiece in preserving one of the greatest incubators of black intellect in the region. It is important that those responsible for this effort are applauded by those who have and will continue to benefit from this great institution. It is also of critical importance to remember that this is only one of the many steps needed to ensure that this illustrious university is returned to prominence.” “I want to extend my sincere appreciation to Cindy Shapira, the chair of the board of governors, for her leadership and action in preserving the legacy of our nation’s oldest historically black college.” Harris, along with state Sen. Vincent Hughes, is a member of the Cheyney University task force. Both Harris and Hughes have been outspoken advocates of saving Cheyney Read more

 

PLBC mourns the passing of former state Rep. Thomas Blackwell

(Aug 24, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 24 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, released the following statement regarding the passing of former state Rep. Thomas W. Blackwell: Harris said, “The City of Philadelphia, and our Commonwealth, has lost a giant. Representative Blackwell dedicated his life to public service and fought to improve the lives of countless Philadelphians. He will be deeply missed. I am certain his legacy will live on and guide the next generation of public servants. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.” State Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood, D-Phila., the House Democratic Caucus secretary, said, “It was an honor to serve with Tommy in the legislature. I have known him and his family for very long time, and he was always a man of integrity and compassion. He had a true vision and was a steward of his community throughout his life. We’re going to miss him and I will keep his family in my prayers.” State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila/Delaware, the Philadelphia County Delegation secretary, said, “Representative Blackwell was a steward of wisdom, guidance and direction. He was the perfect model of how to put the people first as we do the people’s business. I will pray for his family in the hopes that they are comforted through this very emotional time.” Harris added, “Many of the issues he fought for even after leaving office – reducing crime, Read more

 

Pa Legislative Black Caucus and the Philadelphia County Delegation condemn actions of white nationalist groups

(Aug 17, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 17 – State Reps. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, chair of the Philadelphia County Delegation, released the following statement regarding the white nationalist protests that took place in Charlottesville, Va.: “As legislative leaders representing countless Pennsylvanians of color, we condemn the actions of white nationalists in Charlottesville as racist and un-American. As proud Americans, we know that these actions and ideals do not represent the values of tolerance, inclusiveness, and equality that our country strives to uphold. The diversity of our Commonwealth – and of our country – is an asset that must be fully utilized if we are to fulfil the promise of our democracy. “The flags, statues and monuments of the Confederacy are not the celebration of heritage, but are instead the articulation of hatred using the language of an enemy nation. No other country celebrates the conquered, just as no other country flies the flag of the defeated. The Confederacy and the monuments erected long after its defeat represent an ideology that should not be celebrated. This ideology commemorates treason while romanticizing slavery and systemic oppression. “Monuments honoring the Confederacy should be to the Civil War as Benedict Arnold is to the American Revolution. These symbols do not deserve to tower over those they once oppressed, but belong Read more

 

Harris to host fifth annual Soul School Festival

(Jul 24, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, July 24 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., has announced that he will host his fifth annual Soul School Festival beginning at noon Saturday, Aug. 12 at Chew Playground, 19th and Washington Ave. “I am excited to announce that my annual Soul School Festival is back and better than ever,” Harris said. “Each year, I have the honor of bringing my community together to hear directly from them about the issues they face and how I can solve them. It also gives me the opportunity to provide them with available state services and entertainment for the entire family.” The free festival will feature bounce houses, a basketball tournament, face painting and live entertainment. Attendees will also be able to receive free health screenings and learn more about registering to vote, the PA 529 College Savings Plan and utility assistance programs. There will be musical performances by Biz Markie, Total, Marsha Ambrosius, DJ Kool, and Chill Moody. Refreshments also will be served. The event is open to the community, and constituents with questions should contact Harris’ office at (215) 952-3378. ### Read more

 

Harris discusses future of Pa. State System of Higher Education

(Jul 18, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, July 18 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, released the following statement regarding the announcement of Chancellor Frank Brogan’s retirement from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education: “Chancellor Frank Brogan – our Commonwealth’s top higher education official – will be retiring in September. I would like to thank Chancellor Brogan for his lifelong commitment to public service and his impressive career as an educator. As a former educator myself, as well as a trustee at my alma mater Millersville University, I fully understand the challenges that he faced while making critical decisions about the future of our State System. “While we will miss Chancellor Brogan’s leadership, his retirement does provide us with an opportunity to refocus our System. Currently, our System is at a crossroads. Several of our state colleges and universities are facing uncertain futures. Simply put, we don’t know what could happen. As a member of the task force to redesign Cheyney University – our nation’s first Historically Black University – it is vital that the General Assembly and the new chancellor recommit ourselves, and the resources needed, to meet the needs of all of our state schools. The future of Cheyney University must be made a priority by both parties. Doing otherwise is unacceptable. “I have full faith that our Read more

 

Harris expresses outrage over noose found in Philadelphia

(Jul 08, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, July 8 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, released the following statement regarding the wave of racially motivated hate crimes in Philadelphia: “Yesterday in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection, a noose was found hanging from a tree near 18th and Lombard streets. This is the second time in nearly two weeks that this has occurred. As an elected official whose district borders where the noose was found, and as chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislation Black Caucus, I immediately wanted to make an official statement. However, I couldn't. I couldn't because as a black man in Philadelphia, while I wanted to be outraged – while I wanted to be upset – I wasn't. More importantly, I wasn't even shocked. Instead, I thought ‘here we go again.’ Yes, here we go again. Again with domestic terrorists seeking to intimidate, frighten and frankly, terrify people of color – particularly African Americans. “There is no other reason for hanging a noose in 2017, unless your goal is to resurrect feelings of racial terror from the days of Emmitt Till. Or to incite fear from the days of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner. There is no other reason. Knowing this, it saddens me for it has been 53 years since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was championed. But then I’m reminded that it is 2017, and a black man with a license to carry a Read more

 

PLBC Scholarship Winners Recognized

(Jun 30, 2017)

The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus honored the nine winners of their annual scholarships given to worthy high school seniors and college undergraduates. Read more

 

PLBC hosts 2017 scholarship reception

(Jun 30, 2017)

HARRISBURG, June 30 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., said the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today hosted its annual scholarship reception. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said the reception recognized nine Pennsylvania high school seniors and current undergraduate students of color as recipients of the PLBC scholarship program. “Since its establishment in 1973, the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus has been committed to serving the needs of people of color throughout Pennsylvania,” Harris said. “I am honored as chairman to host our seventh annual scholarship program. I firmly believe that we should not only make college more accessible, but also ourselves as elected officials. This scholarship program is about showing young people that we have their backs and to encourage them to be active in the political process.” The scholarship is intended to assist students with their college financial obligation and to foster a relationship between students and PLBC members. Recipients received a $1,000 scholarship to attend an accredited two- or four-year college or university in Pennsylvania. Exceptions apply for students attending any historically black college or university. “This year’s round of scholarship applicants was particularly competitive with many outstanding candidates,” Harris said. “Each applicant possessed outstanding academic achievements and leadership Read more

 

Harris applauds passage of 'clean slate' bill in state Senate

(Jun 28, 2017)

HARRISBURG, June 28 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., applauded the passing of a bill ( S.B. 529 ) in the state Senate that would provide people with low-level, non-violent criminal records a mechanism to have their record sealed from public view. “This legislation is long overdue - for too long we have only been tough on crime. This approach has cost our commonwealth millions of dollars and has taken an unnecessary toll on the lives of countless numbers of our citizens who have paid their legal debt to society but still find themselves locked out of a path to productive citizenry,” Harris said. “We are taking another necessary step to not just be tough, but to also be smart and most importantly fair in our approach to crime. This approach will unlock a pathway to creating something our commonwealth desperately needs, more productive, taxpaying, citizens. This is a great leap in the direction of helping to reduce overall rates of recidivism in our commonwealth and providing opportunities for our citizens and our communities to grow and thrive, potentially saving the state millions of dollars because we will be increasing our tax base,” Harris said. Harris was instrumental in passing Act 5 of 2016, which provides a process for sealing low-level, non-violent misdemeanors. He is now advocating for S.B. 529 and House Bill 1419 , which would implement automatic sealing of records with no action required by the former offender. Under Act 5, Read more

 

Harris Strikes a Blow to Stop and Gos

(Jun 27, 2017)

Pa. state Rep. Jordan Harris sponsored legislation to increase penalties and enforcement against nuisance bars, commonly referred to as “Stop and Gos,” that are a burden on many Philadelphia neighborhoods, dragging down business corridors, hurting communities and lowering quality of life for families. Read more

 

Harris 'Stop and Go' bill passes House

(Jun 27, 2017)

HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., is pleased the House voted in favor of legislation that would address the issues of nuisance establishments that sell alcohol and disrupt the quality of life in the communities where they operate. “The proliferation of these nuisance establishments throughout economically disadvantaged communities fuels the violence and general disruptions of family life while feeding into the stereotype of poor and dangerous neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are the same places where working-class parents are struggling to provide a decent home and striving to provide a superior quality of life for themselves and their children,” Harris said. “Families should not be forced to feel that their futures are under siege, held hostage by the less than scrupulous business practices. The legislature needed to act accordingly and we did by passing this legislation.” House Bill 1547 was introduced by state Reps. Jordan Harris and Donna Bullock, both D-Phila.; and Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. The bill would allow the state Liquor Control Board to designate saturated nuisance market areas, where violations would be subject to enhanced penalties, fines and suspensions, and allow the board to remove licenses from those areas. “Nuisance or problem liquor establishments have an immediate and negative impact on their surrounding areas. Unlike many responsibly owned bars and taverns that Read more

 

Aprobado proyecto sobre 'stop-and-go' en la Cámara de Representantes

(Jun 27, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Junio 27 – El representante estatal Jordan Harris, D-Fila., se expresó complacido con la aprobación de un proyecto de su autoría que atiende la situación actual de los establecimientos que alteran el orden público y deterioran la calidad de vida de las comunidades, conocidos como ‘stop-and-go’. “La proliferación de los stop-and-go a través de comunidades históricamente desventajadas exacerba la violencia y los estereotipos negativos de las personas y las comunidades. Las mismas comunidades donde familias de la clase trabajadora luchan por proveer a sus hijos y seres queridos una mejor calidad de vida”, dijo Harris. “Era necesario que la legislatura actuara en favor de esta población y con la aprobación de este proyecto así se ha hecho”. El Proyecto de la Cámara 1547 fue presentado por los representantes Jordan Harris y Donna Bullock, ambos D-Fila.; y la representante Joanna McClinton, D-Fila/Delaware. La legislación permitiría a la Junta Reguladora de Alcohol (LCB, por sus siglas en inglés) designar áreas saturadas de establecimientos que alteran el orden público, imponer penalidades, multas e incluso revocar licencias. “Estos establecimientos tienen un efecto negativo inmediato en las comunidades en las que operan. A diferencia de negocios responsables, que proveen empleo y entretenimiento Read more

 

PLBC to host 2017 scholarship reception

(Jun 26, 2017)

HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., announced the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus will host its annual scholarship reception at noon Friday, June 30 in the Capitol Media Center. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said the reception will recognize nine Pennsylvania high school seniors and current undergraduate students of color as recipients of the PLBC scholarship. The scholarship is intended to assist students with their college financial obligation and to foster a relationship between students and PLBC members. Recipients will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to attend an accredited two- or four-year college or university in Pennsylvania. Exceptions apply for students attending any Historically Black College and University. Legislative sponsors for this year’s scholarship recipients include: State Representative: State Senator: Rep. Donna Bullock Sen. Jim Brewster Rep. Morgan Cephas Sen. John DiSanto Rep. Jason Dawkins Sen. Art Haywood Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald Sen. Vincent Hughes Rep. Ed Gainey Sen. Sharif Street Rep. Jordan Harris Sen. Christine Tartaglione Rep. Joseph Markosek Sen. Randy Vulakovich Rep. Ronald Marsico Sen. Anthony Williams Rep. Rosita Youngblood Read more

 

Bill to address 'stop and go' alcohol nuisance issue advances to full House

(Jun 13, 2017)

HARRISBURG, June 13 – A bill introduced by three Philadelphia state representatives to address the issue of "stop and go" nuisance alcohol-selling businesses today advanced out of the Liquor Control Committee to the full House of Representatives. House Bill 1547 was introduced by state Reps. Jordan Harris and Donna Bullock, both D-Phila.; and Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. The bill would allow the state Liquor Control Board to designate saturated nuisance market areas, where violations would be subject to enhanced penalties, fines and suspensions, and allow the board to remove licenses from those areas. Harris said, "While the majority of business owners who sell alcohol are responsible business owners, there are those who have been able to operate using business practices that are not in the best interests of the communities that they provide service to; understanding that, we have created legislation that will provide greater state and municipal oversight of those businesses who have skirted the rule of law and created nuisances in our communities that in many cases have altered the quality of life for those residents who live in the areas these businesses serve." Bullock said: "A key part of this bill is allowing for more coordination between the state and local communities to regulate these nuisance businesses. Under this bill, the Liquor Control Board would be given the authority to look at the number of citations, police Read more

 

Harris receives Equal Justice Award from Community Legal Services of Philadelphia

(May 31, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, May 31 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Philadelphia, was presented today with the Equal Justice Award from Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. He received the award at the organization’s annual Breakfast of Champions event at the Double Tree Hotel in Philadelphia. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, was presented the award for his service and commitment to the mission of CLS and his outstanding work in advocating for criminal justice reform for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents. In 2016, he championed Act 5 of 2016, which allows individuals who have served their punishment and remained free of arrest or prosecution for seven to 10 years, for non-violent misdemeanors, to petition the court to seal their criminal records. He is also a sponsor of the clean slate bill – H.B. 1984 – that would automatically seal low-level, non-violent misdemeanors upon rehabilitation. In Pennsylvania, 37.5 percent of working-age residents are estimated to have some type of criminal record. Many of these residents have misdemeanors, summary offenses or arrests without convictions. However, even a minor criminal record can create barriers to employment, housing and educational opportunities. “I am extremely honored to be the recipient of Community Legal Services’ Equal Justice Award,” Harris said. “This award serves as a reminder that although we have seen some progress in terms Read more

 

Harris aims to raise awareness of sickle cell disease

(May 23, 2017)

HARRISBURG, May 23 – A group of organizations joined state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., to advocate for patients suffering from sickle cell disease, discuss new health policy initiatives and ask for support for science and clinical research. "Sickle cell is a hereditary disease with a high prevalence among African-Americans and people of color,” Harris said. “The goal of this special month is to educate people about sickle cell and provide support to individuals and their families whose lives have been touched by the disease. It’s also an opportunity to support research activities that can lead to improved treatment and, one day, a cure.” Sickle cell anemia is a serious blood disorder that causes acute pain, severe anemia, infections and vascular blockages that can lead to widespread organ damage and death. It is a genetic disease, affecting 2 million Americans, most often African-Americans and Hispanics. Until the past few decades, most people with sickle cell disease did not live beyond young adulthood, but advances in treatment have improved and lengthened the lives of patients who have access to good medical care. “Children born with sickle cell are at a particularly high risk for complications, including stroke. Early detection and appropriate intervention is the key to treating sickle cell and minimizing its effects on patients,” Harris said. Harris explained that in 2015, Pennsylvania created a new budget line Read more

 

Harris on Sickle Cell Advocacy

(May 23, 2017)

Chairman of the Pa. Legislative Black Caucus Rep. Jordan Harris spoke to a group of advocates gathered in the State Capitol for Sickle Cell Advocacy Day. Harris encouraged them to speak to as many legislators as possible and to advocate with anyone who will listen for restored funding in the state budget for Sickle Cell resources. Read more