Hello, dedicated readers of The Inquirer Morning Newsletter.
First: We spoke with experts about restrictions being lifted as the pandemic continues.
Then: For some, reopening means finally being able to ditch a mask, and for others the sacrifices will span a lifetime. How do people trust each other again?
And: In recent months, the biggest mass discipline scandal in Philly police history over racist Facebook posts has taken several new turns, as an arbitration process is underway for a number of officers.
As the reopening process unfolds, the nation’s top public health agency has declared that if you are fully vaccinated, “you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.”
The fatigue has been real for many who welcome the freedom. But not everyone is so ready to resume. Some are wary of the return to post-pandemic normalcy, as the science and our understanding of it continues to evolve.
We talked to experts to get their personal perspectives on the rules lifting as the pandemic continues. “I do think we need to open up. I do think we need to reengage, but also be mindful that this is still present,” said Troy Randle, a cardiologist who had COVID-19. Read on for what he and others are saying.
Overall, some were left untouched. Others were so wrecked they can never fathom “going back to normal.” Their pandemic losses are too deep for that.
“We’re never going back to normal,” said the Rev. Joe Nock, pastor of the Second Antioch Baptist Church in Mantua, who was nearly hospitalized with the virus. “Like after 9/11 it was never the same? … It may be subtle, but people are going to have a hard time reintegrating.”
Nock says he fears that now, as restrictions are being lifted, is when the delayed grief will hit some people processing the enormity of what happened. The pandemic era of turmoil and trauma has created a patchwork of vastly different expriences. Some who may have averted sickness endured the loss of careers, livelihoods and friendships, and that’s before you get to the larger inequities and political divides.
Reporter Jeff Gammage turns his attention to those who, as life goes on without them, say they’ll never fully recover.
The largest mass discipline in Philadelphia police history came two years ago when 15 Philly cops were forced off the job, and dozens more were suspended or reprimanded for making racist, sexist, or discriminatory Facebook posts — all documented by the Plain View Project in a public database. It’s still playing out.
Since the scandal hit the Police Department, some of the cops have been fighting back, challenging their penalties through arbitration or lawsuits. One of the officers has been reinstated with full back pay.
After George Floyd became a symbol of the racial justice movement, sparking action in the name of equity and police reform, the city is looking at these legal battles over the disciplined officers as vital to its push to bolster trust in the Police Department. Citing the slayingof Floyd, and the reckoning it spawned, the city opposed all of the efforts by the fired officers to get their jobs back. The police union, however, says the department rushed to judgment, trampled the officers’ due process rights and punished them disproportionately to quiet public outcry.
Read on for reporters Chris Palmer and William Bender’s article on the latest developments of this scandal.
What you need to know today
Philadelphia is still grappling with place names and monuments that honor such people as Frank Rizzo and Christopher Columbus, whose legacies many find offensive — and how to commemorate people from now on.
Lawmakers want to improve equity by investing more in neighborhood programs, eviction diversion programs, and violence prevention as they reject Kenney’s proposed tax cuts for suburban commuters in favor of putting more money into a focused plan to help Black and brown business owners.
New internal documents that we obtained illuminate how that high-stakes mistake that falsely boosted the $64 billion PSERS fund’s performance happened.
Pa.’s 60-year-old unemployment benefits computer system will temporarily go dark as officials roll out a major upgrade to a new, cloud-based program.
This 1991 murder remains one of the most perplexing cold cases in Bucks County history.
Through your eyes | #OurPhilly
Get in, we’re going down the Shore in this sweet electric blue ride with the top down.
Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout-out!
🏀 With a win today, the Sixers will have a week to get ready for the Eastern Conference semis.
🏆 Here are our best and worst awards for Game 3, starting with Joel Embiid’s MVP-caliber showing.
🌳 Ellen Reid’s Soundwalk project makes a Fairmount park walk a transportive musical experience.
🏘️ The Wentz Farmstead has earned Underground Railroad status for “Jack,” a man enslaved there, and it’s about time.
🍺 It’s been quite a ride. What did you think of that Mare of Easttown finale? Sound off here.
“The memory of Philadelphia’s Black success in the early 20th century could be erased in a different way unless we find the will to preserve what remains.”— columnist Inga Saffron writes about the push to preserve Christian Street, what Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia calls a “Main Street for Philadelphia’s Black Elite.”
“As we recognize and memorialize the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform made, let us never forget the important contributions of the “Black Rosies,” writes the author of Dorie Miller: Greatness Under Fire, Dante R. Brizill.
“Little thought seems to have been given to the fate of thousands of Afghan women who have been educated and taken up jobs in the past two decades since the Taliban was defeated – or to the fate of millions of girl students,” columnist Trudy Rubin writes that Afghan girls and women will be in grave danger when U.S. troops leave.
A dual South Philly and Delco citizen writes about how exhausting it was to temporarily give up his “Hoagiemouth” a.k.a. Delco accent, now having a moment thanks to Mare of Easttown.
What we’re reading
Did you spot one of the rainbows in the windows? Creative and sometimes even three-dimensional creations of hand-drawn rainbows proudly displayed in windows of Philly kids’ homes early in the pandemic are on view at the Please Touch Museum. Born out of the Double Rainbows project, they were symbols of the resilience of ordinary people getting through extraordinary circumstances, and now they’ll be gifted to grieving families.