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Omar, a neighborhood fixture beloved by many and despised by others, passed away last week (updated)

Posted on 12 June 2017

This photo portrait of Omar was made by well-known West Philly photographer Kyle Cassidy.

The news has spread very fast – Omar, a controversial, but undoubtedly iconic Spruce Hill individual, has passed away. Although we couldn’t confirm the details, he reportedly died suddenly last week in Long Beach Island, N.J.

A vigil for Omar was held Thursday night at 45th and Locust (photo by Kyle Cassidy).

Many folks who knew him gathered at 45th and Locust Thursday night for a vigil (see more photos below).

Omar was known by many as simultaneously a neighborhood eccentric, dangerous aggressor (sometimes violently so) and idiosyncratic barfly. He showed up in the Spruce Hill neighborhood in the early 2000s, sometimes disappearing for weeks at a time to “the burbs” (his words).

Omar made some people in the neighborhood angry by his erratic and often aggressive behavior (especially toward young women), but he was “a staple of the neighborhood,” as one neighbor put it.  Continue Reading

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Flyer released in Winnie Harris murder case

Posted on 15 May 2017

Police have released a flyer asking for the public’s assistance in identifying two individuals sought in the ongoing investigation of the murder of West Philly community activist Winnie Harris. Harris, 65, was found shot to death in her home on the 300 block of North Holly Street on Feb. 3, 2017. According to the flyer, Harris was killed in the early morning hours of Feb. 2.

The first person of interest is described as a black male, average height, muscular build, with bushy hair and a receding hairline. The second person of interest is described as a black male of average build. He possibly has facial hair on his chin. The flyer can be viewed and downloaded hereContinue Reading

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Boujie Babes, a hair salon with purpose, opening at 4329 Lancaster Ave

Posted on 03 May 2017

Boujie Babes owner Jennell Moody inside her new salon (Photo courtesy of Boujie Babes).

There’s a new type of hair salon opening on Thursday, May 11 and it’s not your typical beauty parlor. Owner Jennell Moody, 34, wants to focus on developing young minds as well.

Moody grew up in a single parent household in North Philly, a part of the city where she was born and raised. Her mother worked long hours to support her family, but Moody wishes she had more resources to work early on in her life. This is why she decided to instill a social mission into her business, starting with a mentoring program for girls between nine and 14 years of age to learn about personal hygiene, healthy body image, self-esteem and “the look for less.” Meet her newest business endeavor: Boujie Babes salon, located at 4329 Lancaster Ave in the Mill Creek neighborhood.  Continue Reading

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Books against Islamophobia: One West Philly mom’s hopeful campaign

Posted on 18 April 2017

In the current political climate and the rise of the alt-right movement, Islamophobia is growing more widespread. A number of public education efforts have surfaced, but there’s one particular effort that aims to nip Islamophobia in the bud while children are still in school. Meet Melanie Bartlett, a parent who heads the education committee at the West Philly Coalition Against Islamophobia (Facebook page). Bartlett is spearheading the “Kids Books That Fight Islamophobia” campaign, which has one simple mission: to get more books featuring Muslim kids into elementary school class libraries. Currently, the campaign is seeking out funding through their GoFundMe page and has already raised over $3,600 of its $5,000 goal.

Bartlett was driven by creating a better world for her daughter, who is being raised Muslim.  Continue Reading

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From West Philly to West Africa: Dance workshop with choreographer Anssumane Sillá this Saturday

Posted on 24 March 2017

Dancer and choreographer Anssumane Sillá was born and raised in Guinea Bissau and moved to Philadelphia in 2008.

A distinguished African-born dancer, drummer and choreographer, Anssumane Sillá, will offer a West African dance workshop this Saturday (March 25) at The Children’s Community School (1212 S. 47th St).

Sillá, a Guinea Bissau native, began performing at the age of 11 and danced professionally with the National Ballet of Guinea Bissau for almost 20 years. He moved to Philadelphia in 2008 and since then has toured the U.S. with the Voices of Africa Drum Ensemble, choreographed for the Kùlú Mèlé African Dance Ensemble, and taught numerous workshops and classes on both traditional West African and contemporary dance styles.  Continue Reading

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Detective Joe Murray is moving on from West Philly; we caught up with him briefly

Posted on 21 March 2017

From Detective Joe Murray’s Twitter feed – @PPDJoeMurray.

 

Detective Joe Murray, the social media savvy cop who entertained and informed followers with pithy tweets about everything from police policy to top-shelf donuts and Wrestlemania, is moving on after 11 years in West and Southwest Philly.

He announced in a March 7 tweet (natch) that he had been transferred to the PPD’s Homicide Division, a much-deserved promotion. Murray won the Richardson Dilworth Award for Innovation and Government in 2015 and didn’t shy away from calling out the highest levels of the PPD. His story made it to NPR in 2012 after the PPD’s top brass figured all his tweeting was a good idea. They did make him professionalize his Twitter handle, though, so he gave up his trademark moniker “The Fuzz” to the more official “@PPDJoeMurray.”

We recently asked Murray a few questions about his time on the West side.  Continue Reading

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