Philadelphia's El Carnaval de Puebla, the largest festival of its kind outside of Mexico, will march on this year in spite of deportation fears, WHYY News’ Angela Gervasi reports. For years, the parade and street fair attracted thousands of onlookers to the taqueria-lined, 9th Street heart of South Philly's Mexican community with elaborately costumed dancers and live music celebrating the culture and history of the town of Huejotzingo in Puebla, where many of Philly's Mexican residents have roots. Community organizers canceled the celebration last year “in response to a flurry of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids and arrests of unauthorized immigrants.”
“We have to return to the everyday,” said Carnaval organizer Edgar Ramirez, adding that he expects to “take precautions as they gather for the festivities because fears of deportation" remain.
The carnival marks the Mexican victory over the French and Turkish forces during the 1862 Battle of Puebla, commonly known as Cinco de Mayo. In South Philly, carnavaleros, the performers in traditional Mexican garb, often evoke comparisons to another South Philly costuming tradition. “They’re very beautiful, very intricate, some would even say that it’s reminiscent of the Philadelphia Mummers outfits, but I personally feel like they’re a lot more beautiful, just because of the cultural impact that comes with them,” said Miguel Andrade, a Colombian native who works for the immigrant-rights group JUNTOS.
The festival is not only a celebration of history, but also of the Mexican community's role in bringing life back to a stretch of storefronts on 9th Street just south of the Italian Market. Today, the historic food destination may be most accurately called the Mexican-Italian Market.
By 2015, immigrants made up more than 20 percent of the population in 10 of the 57 zip codes in the city, wrote Domenic Vitiello, a professor of City Planning and Urban Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and former board chair of JUNTOS, for PlanPhilly. “Immigrant-owned stores with largely immigrant customer bases have helped revive commercial corridors in virtually every section of the city, as immigrants in Philadelphia are more than twice as likely as the native-born to own stores,” Vitiello wrote.
Get revved up for El Carnaval de Puebla with the festival’s countdown clock.
West Philly families could lose homes to unlawful eviction
Dozens of people living in two apartment buildings in West Philadelphia are scrambling to respond after receiving “unlawful” eviction notices to vacate by the end of the month, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Julia Terruso reports. In a letter to tenants, Phillip Pulley, the owner of Admiral Court and Dorsett Court at 48th and Locust Streets in gentrifying Walnut Hill, wrote that “the city was ordering the landlord to cease operations,” Terruso reports.
In actuality, the owner is selling the buildings.
“The reality is the owner can no longer sustain the debt on the building because the tenants are not paying,” Donna Ross, a lawyer for SBG Management Services, which maintains the properties, told Terruso. As for the sale, Ross said that “they would have preferred not to be in this situation, but an opportunity has come up.”
Pulley would not "disclose the name of the buyer nor the plan for the buildings," Terruso reported. Pulley is the President of SBG, according to corporate business filings with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Community Legal Services lawyer Rachel Garland told Terruso that the owner's move to kick out tenants isn't legal. “A landlord cannot shut down a building, lock the doors, or shut off utilities without going through [a] legal process and obtaining a court order,” she said.
The nonprofit law firm is working with 70 tenants to “determine what rights they have to stay beyond the next six days” and look for nearby affordable housing alternatives. The tenants' plight comes at a time when the city, working with CLS, is taking action to protect renters from eviction, in recognition of the toll it takes on communities.
According to city records compiled by the Inky, neither property has had a rental license since 2015 and the owner is also missing certificates of rental suitability, which are “typically needed to formally evict tenants.” The city sued the landlord in March for failing to “attend to broken windows and doors, restore heat to certain units, and make electrical and plumbing repairs,” Terruso writes. In January, municipal court officials announced that landlords who are filing to evict must provide evidence that they’ve been in compliance with Philadelphia law.
Six-year-old on an ATV killed by a drunk driver as city begins anti-dirtbike campaign
Philadelphia police began their annual crackdown on the illegal dirt bike and all-terrain-vehicle (ATV) riders this weekend, just as a drunk driver struck a father and son riding an ATV on Sunday night, 6ABC reports. The crash at 63rd and Callowhill streets in Hunting Park killed the six-year-old child and severely injured the father. Police said neither were wearing helmets and the bike was not registered and had no lights.
Without visibility and riding in the dark, “people do not see them," said Philadelphia Police Detective Jack Logan. Logan also noted “the drivers' blatant disregard [for] red lights, through stop signs and down sidewalks," contributing to the danger on the road. Glorified videos of “gangs of dirt bike and ATV riders” on social media also do not help, according to Philadelphia Police Capt. Steve Clark, who runs the anti-ATV effort.
Police say that have already collected a bunch of vehicles this weekend, which owners can retrieve after paying for the $2,000 fine, towing, storage and court costs.
The Northeast Philly Block Captain Coalition, in partnership with Councilman Bobby Henon’s office, will be hosting a Block Captain Resource Fair on Saturday, May 5. The event will include presentations by the 15th Police District and
the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee in an effort to equip and strengthen neighborhood-level community leaders. The event is free and open to current block captains as well as individuals interested in becoming a block captain. The resource fair happens Saturday, May 5 from 9:00am to noon at Abraham Lincoln High School (3201 Ryan Avenue). For more information, contact Councilman Henon’s District Office at 215-683-9220.