News Briefing: Feb. 24-March 2, 2017

News Briefing: Feb. 24-March 2, 2017

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Gay inmate seeks legal materials 

Last month, openly gay inmate Kenneth J. Houck Jr. filed a request for access to legal materials so that he could pursue his wrongful-injury claims against the federal Bureau of Prisons. 

In November 2011, Houck was brutally assaulted at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia. At the time of the assault, Houck was reading an LGBT novel in his cell. 

Houck’s right leg sustained multiple fractures, and he continues to walk with a limp. The inmate is suing the federal Bureau of Prisons for more than $1 million in damages, according to court records.

Houck said his assailants hurled anti-LGBT slurs while assaulting him. However, authorities declined to classify the incident as a hate crime.

In a Jan. 30 federal-court filing, Houck contended he was being denied access to necessary legal materials to help him litigate his claims.

As of presstime, Houck’s request for access to legal materials remained pending with U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya.

Houck, 41, is currently housed at a federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. Imprisoned for transporting child pornography, his scheduled release date is June 23, 2018.

Justin Long, a spokesperson for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation.

— Timothy Cwiek

Dance party returns with fundraising focus

An LGBT dance party will be held this weekend to raise funds from ACT UP Philadelphia. 

“Thermal: AN NSFW Dance Party of Resistance” will be held 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Feb. 25 at an as-yet undisclosed location. After a 10-month hiatus, the NSFW series, which started nearly five years ago, is returning with an enhanced focus on fundraising and community building.

“We’ve been inspired by the countless protests and demonstrations lately,” said Marquise Lee, who started the series with Paul Blore. “Everyone is feeling that they need to resist in whatever way they can, and we believe NSFW is one of the assets that we, personally, can lend to this movement. We’ve always thought of the party as a form of community building, so why not use it to get people together and behind something?”

“I love that there’s been a spike in support for well-known non-profits like ACLU and Planned Parenthood, but I worry about those smaller organizations that are working for the marginalized and for social justice on a local level,” Blore noted about the beneficiary. “How will they be doing in four years?” 

Tickets to “Thermal” are $5, cash only. The party is 18 to enter and 21 to drink. Pre-registration is required at

Registrants will receive an email with the event location Feb. 23.

William Way, Toasted Walnut mark Women’s Day

The community is invited to learn about the multifaceted women’s programming at William Way LGBT Community Center next month.

Toasted Walnut Bar & Kitchen, 1316 Walnut St., is hosting an International Women’s Day Happy Hour 5:30-7:30 p.m. March 8. At the social, guests can get information about the center’s resources and events for women, sign up or renew center membership and network with other community members.

Complimentary fare and drink specials will be available.

— Jen Colletta

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