Eighth Ward supports Morris probe
by Timothy Cwiek
Mar 27, 2014 | 1185 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Eighth Ward Democratic Committee voted unanimously last week to urge Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane to investigate the Nizah Morris case.

Morris was a transgender woman who became a homicide victim in 2002, shortly after entering a police vehicle for a “courtesy ride.” The crime remains unsolved.

Community efforts to elicit what happened to Morris have been stymied by missing 911 transmissions, a redacted police report, a lost homicide file and an incomplete time-response log.

The Eighth Ward is a political subdivision — largely in Center City west of Broad — that serves as a conduit to party leadership. It’s also a source of information during campaigns and elections.

About 30 committee members attended the March 19 meeting, which was held at a Center City law firm.

In 2012, the Eighth Ward Democratic Committee endorsed Kane, a Democrat, in her bid to become Pennsylvania’s attorney general.

Babette Josephs, an Eighth Ward committeeperson and former state representative, said local authorities appear to be obfuscating facts in the Morris case.

“We’re concerned about unprofessional behavior on the part of both the police and district attorney,” Josephs said. “We’re trying to find out what happened on that so-called courtesy ride that left a 47-year-old woman braindead on a street in the Eighth Ward.”

Josephs noted the Eighth Ward’s prior support for Kane.

“We delivered a lot of votes to her,” she said. “The Eighth Ward is going to send a letter to her, and we’re hoping she’ll pay attention to it — along with the letters of other organizations that are calling for a state probe.”

Josephs voiced optimism that Kane will respond favorably.

“When she gets the letter written by the Eighth Ward, she will understand that this homicide is very important to neighborhood and community leaders across the Eighth Ward — which is a very big ward. I would think we have an enormous influence in statewide or citywide elections.”

Uda Bartholomew, another Eighth Ward committeeperson, also expressed support

for Kane’s involvement.

“Everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” Bartholomew said. “I’ve got transgender folks in my family. I’ve been stereotyped as transgender, though I’m not. I don’t like when anyone is bullied or harassed or hurt with malice or ill will. I’ve been a Christian pacifist since the age of 3. I know people deserve justice and mercy. My hope is for a full and truthful investigation in the Morris case, so that even the people who are perpetrators have a chance to cleanse their hearts.”

Committee members who will draft the letter to Kane include Josephs, Tryna Jacobs, Charles Goodwin and Stephen Springer.

Also at the meeting, state Rep. Brian Sims (D-182nd Dist.) was endorsed for re-election. Josephs is challenging Sims in the May 20 primary. The vote was 16-10.

“I am honored to have received the important endorsement of the Eighth Ward,” Sims said in a statement to PGN. Although I fully expected that the committee people of Rittenhouse Square, Logan Square, Fitler Square and Spring Garden would join me in my campaign for re-election to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, I am proud that they have reaffirmed their belief in progress not just in Philadelphia, but across the Commonwealth. I look forward to continuing to work with those committee members to improve the lives of our fellow citizens.”

In other news, Abbe Fletman, an openly LGBT attorney, made a brief presentation at the meeting, explaining that she plans to run for a judgeship on Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. She didn’t officially declare her candidacy at the meeting

“I’m just here to see and be seen,” Fletman told PGN after her presentation.

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