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PLBC statement on state police shooting of Monroe County teen

PLBC welcomes new executive director

(Jan 11, 2022)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 11 – State Rep. and Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Chair Donna Bullock today announced that April Ashe is the new executive director of the PLBC. “We welcome April and look forward to her tenure with the Black caucus,” said Bullock, D-Phila. “She has worked with the Democratic Caucus for more than a decade and brings a wealth of knowledge and savvy to the position.” Ashe began her career with the House Democrats as an intern in 2009. She graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in integrated studies from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, with concentrations in political science and psychology. She is currently studying for her master’s degree in educational psychology at Purdue University Global. She has served as a legislative assistant to PLBC members, including former state Rep. Jake Wheatley, Jr., who is now chief of staff for Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey. She has worked as a research analyst for the House Commerce, Finance, and Professional Licensure committees. A Harrisburg resident, she holds a monthly Self Care Saturday’s event in her community and is a volunteer with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America in Harrisburg, teaching yoga and meditative practices to the youth. She partners with Healthy Harrisburg and speaks to youth groups and single-mother groups on the importance of self-care and emotional intelligence. She can be reached at (717) 772-6955 or through email at Read more


PLBC statement on Peter Spencer case

(Jan 07, 2022)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 7 – Pa. Legislative Black Caucus Chair and state Rep. Donna Bullock today released a statement from the caucus, along with Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton and PLBC caucus member and state Rep. Jake Wheatley on the Peter Spencer case in Venango County. Pennsylvania State Police are leading an independent investigation into the death of Peter Spencer, 29, of Pittsburgh, who was found shot several times in Venango County, according to Pittsburgh news reports. “While the police continue their investigation, we need to have patience. However, we join the calls that demand justice be served. The story of a Black man shot multiple times after he joined friends on a hunting trip is hard to fathom. But we will wait for the independent investigation of the Pennsylvania State Police and trust that they will uphold the law and seek justice as well.” Read more


Bullock statement on Jan. 5 Fairmount fire

(Jan 06, 2022)

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 6 – State Rep. and PA Legislative Black Caucus Chair Donna Bullock released a statement addressing the Jan. 5 Fairmount fire. “The devastating events of yesterday morning have hit home for everyone, particularly because of the tragic loss of life. While the investigation is not over yet, news accounts claim this is the deadliest fire in more than a century in the city. “This is a neighborhood in my legislative district where the people are caring and warm, are families with small children, and are older folks all who come together to make it a community. We are sending our condolences and prayers to everyone impacted and offering assistance where we are able. “But as we move forward, and as we find out definitive facts about this tragedy, it is imperative that we as legislators and community leaders do more to provide resources like affordable housing for families, support for a safe living environment and economic resources as necessary and when people need it the most.” Read more


PLBC statement on state police shooting of Monroe County teen

(Nov 19, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 19 – The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today released a statement regarding the release of video of the Pennsylvania State Police shooting of Christian Hall. The Monroe County teen had been diagnosed with depression and was threatening to take his own life on a highway overpass. Recent release of the full version of video of the incident shows Hall had his hands in the air at the time of the shooting. Earlier this year the PLBC sent a letter to the Monroe County District Attorney’s office with a formal request to have the case forwarded to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office for a more objective investigation. “The refusal of the Monroe County DA’s office to refer the case, coupled with the release of the video that authorities previously blurred, is troubling and presents a real conflict. These are the cases that sow public doubt and create tension between law enforcement and residents. A truly objective lens on this would help to mend the fractures that seem evident and even disturbing in this case, both for the family and the public at large. "We unfortunately come back to cases like this again and again across the commonwealth and across the country. Instead of law enforcement recognizing the disconnect that exists with their handling of cases where race and mental illness are involved, they allow cases to be pushed through, then pushed aside at what seems like the benefit of Read more


PLBC condemns book bans at start of national Banned Books Week

(Sep 27, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 27 – State Rep. and Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Chair Donna Bullock, D-Phila., was joined by members of the PLBC, LGBTQ+ Caucus, Latino Caucus and Equity Committee today to denounce the banning of books on diversity from schools in the commonwealth. This action was spurred in part by the overturning of a year-long book freeze in a York County school district and the new push by Republican state lawmakers to ban critical race theory, which is not taught in any district in the state currently. Two students who led the protest on the book freeze in Central York School District, Edha Gupta and Christina Ellis, spoke at the news conference. “Banning books on diversity is the direct result of this Republican manufactured crisis on critical race theory,” Bullock said. “This fearmongering has parents and school districts scrambling to stop something that doesn’t exist. Part of the negative effect of this overreaching response is children are kept from reading books that reflect their diverse school community and world around them. “If we continue to allow groups to pedal this misinformation, this ban will only be the tip of the iceberg. We owe our children more than that and we are calling out districts that minimize or restrict information through book bans or perpetuate this made-up crisis that is merely a political platform.” Pennsylvania is one of a growing list of states trying to enact a CRT ban, Read more


Police, Labor Relations topic of public hearing hosted by Pa. Legislative Black Caucus Wednesday

(Aug 17, 2021)

Philadelphia, Aug. 17 – State Rep. Donna Bullock is convening a meeting of the House Democratic Policy Committee and Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus to discuss the role of labor in police reforms. The hearing will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, August 18 at Temple University, Fox Gittis Room, 1776 N. Broad St., Philadelphia . The Fox Gittis Room is located just off the Broad Street Lobby, Alumni Hall at the Liacouras Center. The media and public are encouraged to attend. Masks are required. Additional information about this and other House Democratic Policy Committee hearings is available at www.pahouse.com/policy . Read more


PLBC Spring-Summer 2021 newsletter

(Aug 12, 2021)

PLBC Spring-Summer 2021 newsletter featuring budgeting for racial justice and equity, promoting health and public safety and upcoming events. Read more


PLBC touts $30 million for community violence prevention

(Jun 25, 2021)

HARRISBURG, June 25 – Today the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus touted the $30 million included in the state budget which will go toward community violence prevention including fighting gun violence, according to state Rep. and PLBC Chair Donna Bullock, D-Phila. Earlier this year, Bullock along with state Reps. Morgan Cephas and Amen Brown, both D-Phila., introduced H.B. 696 which provided for a similar community violence grant program. State Sen. Art Haywood, D-Phila., introduced a companion bill in the Senate. “Gun violence is epidemic in scope but personal in nature,” Bullock said. “The families of loved ones who have lost their lives to gun violence have rallied with us and asked us as legislators to do something. This money is an investment to be used toward that next step in the work for which the PLBC has been laying the groundwork for years. This investment will finally help us move forward to begin investing in programs that we know will work and are led by people in our communities with boots on the ground.” “Countless Pennsylvanians are carrying the physical and mental trauma of gun violence, with many experiencing the devastating effects daily,” Cephas said. “The funding is available for our legislature to become intentional with quelling this public health crisis. As lawmakers, it is our moral obligation to protect residents across this state, and the budget must reflect that. Read more


PLBC condemns violent police arrests of teens in Ocean City, MD

(Jun 16, 2021)

HARRISBURG, June 16 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and members of the PLBC this week strongly condemned the recent actions of Ocean City, MD police in arresting four Harrisburg teens over alleged vaping and other violations. “I watched the videos of these teens being arrested and saw how quickly things escalated,” Bullock said. “We must ask ourselves – how does a simple citation lead to police violence? How can we better train police to handle these situations? This incident is further proof why there needs to be police reform not just in the commonwealth, but across the nation. We are working on those reforms in Pennsylvania and would hope that other states are following in the same way. “The kind of local mandates and ordinances that led to this incident are similar to pretextual stops. The ordinances allow law enforcement to harass and find reasons to arrest when a simple citation or warning would have sufficed. Instead, we have teens being tased and physically assaulted by law enforcement. “These teens were not armed and to suggest these officers had a right to operate this way is absurd and needs to be addressed. This incident needs to be investigated and these officers need to be held accountable to the fullest extent.” Read more


Kenyatta applauds Dr. Jason Wingard for making history as first Black Temple University president

(Jun 08, 2021)

HARRISBURG, June 8 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., released the following statement applauding Dr. Jason Wingard on becoming 13 th president of Temple University and the university’s first Black president its 137-year history. Kenyatta also highlighted the importance of activism which led to this historic appointment. “As a proud Temple University alumnus, I applaud Dr. Jason Wingard on his appointment to become the thirteenth president of Temple University and making history as the first Black president in the university’s 137-year history. Dr. Wingard is impeccably qualified and possesses the ability to connect to Black and Brown students and residents of North Philadelphia. “While we applaud Dr. Wingard’s historic appointment, we must also acknowledge the journey of how we got to this point. Activism matters. “I was born and raised here in North Philadelphia, graduated from Temple University and now represent this community in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Through the years, I watched the university prosper at the expense of my neighbors. Since being elected, I constantly challenged Temple University’s mostly all-white leadership on the dire need for diversity among its ranks-- meaningful diversity that mirrors the surrounding communities acknowledges that reality that these predominantly Black neighborhoods have long suffered the effects of economic Read more


Krajewski, Kenyatta push back against false voting ‘integrity’ efforts, promote support for enhanced and expanded voting rights for all

(Jun 07, 2021)

HARRISBURG, June 7 — State Reps. Rick Krajewski and Malcolm Kenyatta, both D-Phila., pushed back against the false right-wing narrative regarding voting integrity efforts Monday, instead promoting the need to increase access to voting for all, and especially for those whose voting rights are under attack. “Over the past 18 months, as we have seen unprecedented movements and victories in the fight against police violence, the defeat of Donald Trump, Democratic control of the U.S. Senate and more; we have also seen a steep increase in attempts by the right-wing elite to disenfranchise the marginalized people who have benefited from these achievements,” Krajewski said during the Defending Democracy event he and Kenyatta led. “That is no coincidence. “Government should be by the people, for the people, but as the people have started shaking things up and dismantling the status quo, their rights to choose their elected officials through free and fair elections have come under attack through farcical efforts to question the integrity of our elections,” Krajewski continued. “We will not stand for this misleading misdirection and we wanted to bring this issue into the spotlight so we can examine the ways in which access to voting must be expanded and voting rights upheld.” “Voter suppression tactics have become as American as apple pie, with almost every generation of Black and brown Americans having to combat Read more


Pa. Legislative Black Caucus condemns Zappala actions

(Jun 04, 2021)

HARRISBURG, June 4 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., chair of the PA Legislative Black Caucus, along with members of the PLBC today condemned the actions of Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala to ban plea deals for clients of attorney Milton Raiford because Raiford said publicly he felt the DA’s office was systemically racist in dealing with defendants of color. In an email made public, Zappala ceased plea deals for anyone Raiford is or would be defending moving forward, pending a decision by him. “For the district attorney of any county to say the office will cease plea deals across the board for an attorney’s clients because that attorney has disagreed with the DA publicly is abuse of power, period,” Bullock said. “But in this particular case, a Black lawyer and his clients, many of them people of color, are being treated differently because the DA refuses to face the criticism of systemic racism in our criminal justice system. This is disgraceful, appalling, disturbing and unacceptable, and needs to be remedied immediately. A full investigation needs to be launched as well with the findings made public.” “Over the past several years, we have seen the systemic inequality and bias of the criminal justice system laid bare,” said state Rep. Austin Davis, chair of the House Allegheny County Delegation and a PLBC member. “This past week, we have seen just how local this issue truly is in the Read more


Bullock announces PLBC scholarship awardees

(Jun 03, 2021)

HARRISBURG, June 3 – State Rep. and PLBC Chair Donna Bullock, D-Phila., this week announced the awardees of the newly renamed James R. Roebuck Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus scholarship for 2021. A virtual award ceremony will take place at 10 a.m., Wednesday, June 23. It can be viewed live on Facebook @PALegislativeBlackCaucus and pahouse.com/PLBC. The scholarship recipients are: Jaelynn Pearson, Philadelphia, Hill Freedman World Academy. Labiq Jaigirdar, Philadelphia, George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science. Deiveian Story, Philadelphia, The Workshop School and Community College of Philadelphia, dual enrollment program. Jasmine Vega, Philadelphia, Archbishop John Carroll High School. Abronah C. Taylor, Harrisburg, Kutztown University. Mephki Lopez, Philadelphia, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology. Mya Hill, Philadelphia, Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School. Annechase Obame , Harrisburg, Central Dauphin East High School. Asia Blocker, Lansdowne, The Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr. Norah Ostin, Pittsburgh, Oakland Catholic High School. Criteria for the $1,000 scholarships: A Pennsylvania resident. A person of color. A graduating high school senior or current undergrad at a college or university. Plan to enroll/return in full-time undergraduate study at an accredited two- or four-year college or university for the entire upcoming academic year. Attend the scholarship awards Read more


Nelson: Police Reform is Only Part of the Equation

(May 26, 2021)

On the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police, Pa. state Rep. Napoleon Nelson challenges his fellow Pennsylvanians to continue the fight for racial justice and equality. Read more


House Democrats seek to prevent prison gerrymandering

(May 26, 2021)

“It’s better for the purposes of drawing our legislative districts, which are population-based, to count these individuals in the communities they call home. It will result in better, more even representation for all Pennsylvanians.” Read more


PA Legislative Black Caucus statement on anniversary of George Floyd's death

(May 25, 2021)

HARRISBURG, May 25 – On the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer and convicted murderer Derek Chauvin, the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus released a statement on the state of race relations, police reform and the road ahead. “On this anniversary, let’s not say his name in vain,” said PLBC Chair state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila. “Let not our calls for accountability and justice be used to inflate budgets but rather, let our calls for substantive police reform be heard and included in discussions, not diluted, ignored and waived off. We marched, we prayed, we demanded, and we saw some change. Yet, we still have work to do.” “George Floyd should be alive today, but instead, he joins the long list of Black people who were targets of police violence,” said House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. “We have the power to enact real change within policing across Pennsylvania. We must hold bad actors accountable, end systemic racism and save lives.” “One year after the murder of George Floyd, our country and state have much more to do to increase police accountability and professionalism,” said state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny. “The work of our advocates, community members and families of those killed has pushed the legislative process to the point that we are today, and now, we as members of the Read more


Nelson: Renewing the Call for Racial Justice

(May 25, 2021)

Pa. state Rep. Napoleon Nelson reflects on the last year since George Floyd was murdered, noting that when justice is ripped away from others, we feel it in our bones. He talks about the need to do everything that’s possible to make sure this Commonwealth and country moves further towards true justice and equality. Read more


Bullock condemns misleading mailings to Black and Brown communities

(May 07, 2021)

HARRISBURG, May 7 – Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Chair and state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., released a statement regarding the upcoming ballot questions that will be posed to voters May 18 as a result of legislation passed by the General Assembly in two consecutive sessions. “Since the pandemic began special interest groups funded by out-of-state billionaires have been spreading lies about COVID-19 and the governor’s effort to save lives. They hosted maskless rallies and demanded an end to mitigation efforts- spreading the virus, putting essential workers at risk, and making our recovery more challenging. “Now these same special interests are spending millions of dollars clogging mailboxes with misinformation about the upcoming ballot questions. They claim to be speaking for workers everywhere, but especially for workers of color. It’s outrageous, it’s appalling, and it’s insulting. These groups have spent years opposing every attempt to improve the lives of working people and now they’re trying to say supporting equality also means risking lives and destroying the existing checks and balances against any governor’s ability to declare a disaster. “There’s an old adage among attorneys: If the facts are on your side pound the facts, if the law is on your side pound the law, but, if you don’t have the facts or the law on your side then pound the table. These lie-filled mailers are Read more


PLBC Addresses Systemic Inequities & Implicit Bias in Pa.

(May 07, 2021)

Members and associates of the Pa. Legislative Black Caucus introduced their package of bills aimed at eliminating systemic racial inequities and addressing implicit bias in healthcare, state services and more across the Commonwealth. Read more


PLBC outlines legislative agenda for systemic equity

(May 05, 2021)

HARRISBURG, May 5 – State House members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and supporters today outlined their legislative agenda for systemic equity at a Capitol news conference. Members spoke about bills that would resolve bias, create diversity and provide inclusion, bridging the racial divide and inequities in legislation, state government agencies and health care. “This agenda is a road map for changing the way we deliver services, distribute resources and otherwise do business in the Commonwealth in all matters so that everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, gender, or Zip code, will have the same access and the same expectation as residents of Pennsylvania,” said PLBC Chair and state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila. “The inequities in health care, housing and employment that were exacerbated by the pandemic are not new. They are systemic and often rooted in generations of racism. To address these systemic inequities, we have to remove stigmas, address implicit bias, and invest in systemic equity in ways that provide fair and equitable access to wealth, health, safety and more. We cannot continue doing things as we’ve done in the past and expect the outcome to be different. I have said that before, it still holds true and will continue to be true until we make substantial changes. We won’t relent until we see these changes.” “I truly appreciate the leadership of PLCB Chairwoman Bullock to keep us Read more