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SWAT Officer Charged Pepper Spray I676 Protesters; Art Commission Columbus Hearing; Lindbolm 3Y Deal
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 07/22/20 4:40 pm | updated: 07/22/20 4:40 pm
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced on Wednesday, 7/22, that a Philadelphia SWAT officer has been criminally charged for his actions against Black Lives Matter protestors on the Vine Street Expressway I-676 on Monday, June 1. 35-year-old Richard Paul Nicoletti, a 12-year veteran, has been charged with one count of possession of an instrument of crime and three counts each of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and official oppression. Nicoletti was caught on video pepper spraying three protestors in the face as they knelt on the roadway. A large protest on June 1 had spilled on to the expressway near 22nd Street around 5 p.m. that day. Hundreds of demonstrators stopped traffic in both directions. At one point, police made the decision to clear the highway. They starting deploying tear gas and protesters starting to flee as SWAT marched forward. Three individuals stopped and knelt down. Nicoletti can be seen on video walking up to these individuals with a can of pepper spray. He pulls the goggles down on the first woman and sprays her directly in the eyes. The second woman he sprays at point blank range. The third man he shoves to the ground before spraying him. Nicoletti was suspended 30 days with the intent to dismiss.

The Philadelphia Art Commission held its first public meeting on Wednesday, 7/22, taking up the issue of the possible removal of the statue of Christopher Columbus from Marconi Plaza on S. Broad Street in South Philadelphia. The virtual hearing lasted 5 1/2 hours as members of the public gave testimony to the commission. The statue has been boarded up since mid-June after tensions between armed residents and protestors boiled over. Mayor Kenney requested the commission look into removing the monument. Public opinions vary wildly on Columbus' status. Those against keeping it say that the sailor's arrival in the New World was the beginning of the oppression of indigenous people and foundation of systemic racism. Supporters view him as an icon of Italian-American heritage and a brave explorer. The next meeting will be August 12, where a vote is expected.

Attorney George Bochetto told the commission that whether the statue should stay or be removed, he would be very concerned as a commissioner by the way this process has been handled. He called the survey conducted by the city flawed (A push-pull leading question and online only format). He said the entire procedure has been done against the home rule charter rules and called it a rush to judgement. He also pointed out the reasons for debating the statue were solely political. Bochetto noted that no experts have been called to talk about the history or the art. There have only been anecdotal references of recent 'uncoverings' of Columbus' bad deeds, but no actual scholars or historians to talk specifically of Columbus. Dangerous precedent could be set.

UPDATE: The Philadelphia Historical Commission held a virtual meeting on Friday, 7/24, and voted to remove the statute. The Art Commission will be voting on the monument's fate on August 12.

The FBI announced on Wednesday, 7/22, that the man suspected in the deadly shooting at the home of a federal judge in New Jersey is also connected to a fatal shooting in California two weeks ago. Attorney Roy Den Hollander was found death of an apparent self-inflicted gun shot wound in Sullivan County, New York on Monday, 7/20. Investigators say that he posed as a delivery driver on Sunday at the NJ home of US District Court Judge Esther Salas. Salas' 20-year-old son opened the door and was immediately shot/killed by Den Hollander and her husband was wounded. Investigators have linked Den Hollander to the death of attorney Marc Anglelucci in San Bernardino, CA. Anglelucci was killed in the same fashion. A man posing as a delivery driver shot him after he opened the door. Authorities are still working on motive in both cases. Den Hollander notoriously worked on "men's rights" or "anti-feminist" cases.

The Philadelphia Flyers have signed Oskar Lindblom to a three-year contract extension worth $9 million. The 23-year-old has been out since December when he was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a tumor that grows in the bones or in the tissue around bones. He completed radiation treatments on July 2. "I am very excited to be a part of the Flyers for the next three seasons," Lindblom said in a press release. "The support that the organization, the fans, and the entire NHL has given me has been quite overwhelming. I can't wait to get back skating with the boys and being the professional hockey player I know I can be. I want to thank the Flyers for giving me this opportunity and I look forward to the day I'm back and contributing to the team's success." He has been named a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded annually by the NHL to the player who best embodies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game of hockey. Lindbolm was drafted by the Flyers in 2014. He is from Gavle, Sweden.

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