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FAULKNER: Briarcliffe Fire Company Was Not Racist

The Briarcliffe Fire Company in Darby Township disbanded in April following public outcry over a recording that captured members making racist remarks about Black firefighters. They were also caught allegedly mocking 8-year-old Fanta Bility, who was fatally shot by three Sharon Hill Police officers last August following a football game. 

Carlton Faulkner, a third-generation firefighter, was a former lieutenant at Colwyn Borough and at Goodwill Fire Company. He was the last one to hold the position of lieutenant at Briarcliffe Fire Company. He wrote this for DVJournal.


I never experienced racism or discrimination at the Briarcliffe Fire Company and do not believe other firefighters did, either. I am a man of color, as are some others who joined the fire company.

The now-defunct company came under fire for an audio tape that supposedly included the “N-word.” However, that word was never used. Instead, some believed the word “liar” was the N-word. The term “spook” was used, but no one felt offended by it.

And as for the controversy around the word “Fanta,” there was a discussion about the tragedy in Sharon Hill, where 8-year-old Fanta Bility was killed. However, another firefighter and I thought that they were talking about Fanta soda because Fanta soda is sweet. No one mocked that child who died. Our sons, who are disabled, both like Fanta soda.

The deputy chief of the Goodwill fire company, Timothy Eichelman, released the letter accusing us of mocking the girl before the audio even came out.

The letter disparaged all the individuals who Eichelman had issues with. I believe jealousy over the township assessment that did not fund Goodwill was the reason behind all this.

Goodwill Fire Co. provided false information regarding the number of qualified firefighters they had during the assessment, and the records did not match. And stations 76 and 77 did not turn in all the requested information.

So Eichelman and Goodwill Fire Chief Paul Graf wanted to keep that information from coming out. Goodwill also wanted Briarcliffe’s building and ambulance contract.

What bothers me about this situation is that I am the first person of color to hold a line officer position. And if I felt like I was being discriminated against, I would have spoken up and called them out on it.

The company did not have to accept me. They got numerous phone calls and texts from people in other organizations saying to deny my membership because I would cause issues. The chief and the board of directors took a gamble bringing me into the company.

But they saw what I brought to the table and how devoted I was to running calls. It did not matter what type of call it was, I was on the truck. I was one of the top 10 responders.

Briarcliffe Fire Co. was my second home, my second family. The personal connection was so deep that my autistic son wanted to run fire calls at that company with the same individuals because he loved being there. My son’s dream was shattered because he only wanted to be a part of that company.

Imagine telling your 6-year-old son that being at that company won’t happen. They ask you why, and when you tell them, they start crying. That really got under my skin.

Some residents on the southern end of the township also stated that Briarcliffe never made it to fire calls in their community and they assumed it was because the south end of the township is predominantly Black.

If anyone checked any information, they would have known that the chief of station 76, Tiberius Bobo, never put Briarcliffe on the run card for anything except building fires. Also, we had an EMS contract with a hospital in that area, and they supplied the EMT and paramedics for the calls.

Now that we voted to dissolve Briarcliffe, residents in Darby Township can expect longer wait times for ALS (advanced life support) care. So if the township commissioners cared so much about the township, they would have resolved the situation without this blowing up.

A heart patient might wait nearly 30 minutes for an ALS ambulance to arrive. According to state standards, the preferred wait time is six minutes or less. That is entirely unacceptable for any emergency.

This is my statement on this matter, and I stand by it.

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Anthony Coleman Wants Kids to Learn About HD Not CRT

Anthony Coleman wants you to know that he’s a young Black man who is against critical race theory (CRT).

That topic has been in the news lately, as more parents come out against it. And it has even played a role in the Senate confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Coleman has written an anti-CRT guide for parents and teachers about his own theory of HD or Human Dignity.

“It’s based on my experiences in high school,” said Coleman, 30, who graduated from Harriton High School in Lower Merion.

“Seeing how racism is still a serious topic of discussion, and it seems like everyone’s just being divided and not really focusing on what’s most important, which is our humanity. And because I had this conviction and wanted to share that message to others,” he said.

He wanted to go into schools and give presentations to students. But once the COVID pandemic began, he decided to write a guide instead. Coleman, who works as a janitor at a theater, has been advertising his guide “Real Anti-Racism Is Embracing HD, Not CRT” by wearing a sandwich board at public places.

“I’ve been promoting it,” he said. “I’m just trying to get the word out. I’ve been reaching out to different people and organizations.”

“While CRT divides people by the color of their skin and being oppressed or an oppressor, I’m totally against that,” Coleman said. “I want my guide to be a resource for parents and teachers, to provide a different way. So it was cool, things just aligned.”

“Being a mom to a high schooler and watching the agendas being pushed is very difficult,” said Clarice Schillinger, a Horsham resident and Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. “The current curriculum being pushed by special interest groups with radical agendas is extremely harmful to our youth, our future, and our nation. This curriculum does not allow for debate or discussion but only allows for teaching our youth what to think and learn instead of how to think and learn. It will take all of us to stand up against this tyranny. I am proud to know and support Anthony in his efforts to remove critical race theory from our schools and society.”

Coleman said, “My thing is we shouldn’t define ourselves by the color of our skin. We should be focusing on what’s important, which is our humanity, rather than racism. We should overcome racism as a whole as a society.”

Also said his Christian faith informs his ideas about race and how to treat other people, he said.

“My high school experience was with my friends, White kids, Black kids,” he said. “I was singing along to a rock song and one of the White girls looked at me. ‘Anthony, you’re not Black. And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ Because she’s basically implying that Black people only listen to rap music. And since this wasn’t a rap song, that I’m not really Black. So then it really hits me to think that many people look at race and just (presume) you have a lot of qualities, too. That there’s race and all these preconceived notions, without really getting a chance to see them as individuals.”

“CRT is the same thing,” he said. “It feels as though they’re pushing preconceived notions that because you’re Black, you’re oppressed…It’s not science. It’s politics.”

Coleman’s guide is available on his website.

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Bensalem Township School District Paid $110,650 for ‘Equity Review’

The Bensalem Township School District paid a Maryland-based consulting firm $110,650 to conduct an “Equity Review” and develop a “Diversity Equity and Inclusion” plan alongside the district’s new DEI committee.

The review, published by the district in May, provides 97 pages of analysis of the district’s operations. Underlying the premise of the review’s recommendations are ideas relating to the controversial tenets of critical theory associated with individuals like Ibram X. Kendi.

“Perhaps counter-intuitively, racial inequities cannot be addressed without acknowledging race—which is only a political construct used to create hierarchies in our society—and the inequities that are created by those in power (White and mostly male in the United States),” the review notes in a section criticizing the district’s current “‘color-blind’ approach to education.”

Records obtained via Right-to-Know Law request show that FourPoint Education Partners entered into a consulting agreement with the district on Jan. 27.

The partnership appears to be ongoing as the district continues to work on its DEI plan alongside FourPoint.

Andrea Buchanan is a mother with two children in the district, and is critical of the contract and the audit results. Working with a small group of other concerned parents, she has been tracking the district closely, and also obtained the equity audit contract and report through a Right-to-Know request.

“I think it’s a waste of money, or it could be better spent elsewhere,” Buchanan said. “It could be better spent on the learning loss through Covid, maybe hiring some tutors to help with parents or help get these kids up to speed where they need to be.”

The report FourPoint returned to the district is packed with academic language, much of which is aimed at otherwise innocuous subjects, including empowering principals and providing resources to students learning English as a second language.

“Systemic coherence is a journey, not a destination; therefore, effective school districts are constantly working to align theory of change, strategy, and other elements to improve school performance while bombarded by external factors (i.e., a local election or a pandemic),” one of the report’s conclusions said.

However, FourPoint is absolute in recommending that the district change its practices to adhere to ideas common among left-wing activists.

“Every policy and practice must be equitable and antiracist at its core—from how educators are hired and supported to how educational resources are allocated across schools and students to how families gain access to information to support their children,” it says.

And the district has, so far, been public about adopting this race-focused approach to education. In June, it hosted an “Equity Summit” that was open to the public.

“Bensalem Township School District unanimously passed a resolution supporting the development of an anti-racist school climate on August 26, 2020,” the the Summit announcement noted. “We have undergone an independent review of our District and are ready to begin our work with this kick-off event.”

The event included Dr. Cherrissa Gibson, the Director of Equity, Diversity, and Education at Pennsbury School District. Gibson is currently a defendant in a lawsuit against Pennsbury filed by local parents who claim to either have been silenced at school board meetings or seen their comments struck from the record of meetings after Gibson claimed they used “coded racist terms,” according to the plaintiffs.

“We feel like education has gotten off track of what it’s supposed to be,” Buchanan said. “We’ve gotten very far away from the basics: reading, writing, arithmetic.”

“The [DEI] things that are being pushed in school should be taught at home.”

Requests for comment to Bensalem Township School District were not returned.


This article first appeared in Broad and Liberty.

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JACKSON: Critical Race Theory Undermines Religious Faith

For decades, left-leaning crusades to solve the problems of the Black community have been either ineffective or outright harmful to the very people they were supposed to help. Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the latest and perhaps most dangerous example of this, and it must be opposed by everyone of conscience – and especially everyone of faith.

Self-described civil rights leaders herald CRT as a positive step forward. They appear to believe that tearing down statues and retelling history from a slavery perspective are prescriptions for healing past racial wounds. And they celebrate the inroads they’ve made into many K-12 public schools, universities, and even corporations such as AT&T and Walmart.

But is this wider acceptance of CRT really a victory?

Critical Race Theory isn’t helping to heal wounds from past discrimination and slavery, as its proponents like to claim. Instead, it’s creating new wounds.

For White Americans, CRT’s message is unrelentingly negative. It asserts that the entire White race is inherently racist and can never change. It’s like taking up a sport or a hobby only to be told that, no matter what you do, you’ll never get better.

For Black Americans, the message is even more corrosive – and quite frankly, racist. We are told we are helpless victims of White people and cannot possibly overcome their dominance without the government’s help. Why even attempt to learn and grow when we can’t escape this fate?

The CRT message is particularly damaging in schools, where it is aimed at impressionable children.

But perhaps the most destructive effects of CRT are seen in people of faith. This harm comes regardless of race.

The foundation of faith is redemption, but CRT casts that aside by preaching that many people are irredeemable. Without redemption, spiritual faith ceases to exist. Even self-improvement is apparently impossible since all the laws and institutions allegedly only create more racism.

Even the Black church, which was at the heart of the civil rights movement, is now considered racist by CRT proponents, who believe it exists only to spread more racism. For example, Protestants are oppressors and not even salvation can change them.

According to CRT, all of the advances of the civil rights movement were done to perpetuate racism. We know that many who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had White skin and strong faith. Dr. King admonished Black people who distrusted White people because he acknowledged many of those Whites saw their own freedom tied to the status of Black Americans.

CRT’s undercutting of faith and the King legacy shouldn’t be surprising, since the founders of CRT were atheists invested in tearing down our society. What is shocking, however, is that the movement has found so much acceptance in the churches that are ultimately the targets for repudiation and ultimate destruction.

Both my mother and best teachers emphasized that what I thought about myself was always more important than what others thought of me. They taught me that my self-worth comes from within and that it was up to me to develop positive images of myself and my value. That advice helped me always believe in my abilities and take responsibility for my own success.

And most importantly, as a person of faith, I was taught that it’s not about what happens to me but rather how I respond to the things that happen to me. My fate has always been in my hands; anything else would make my Creator unjust.

That is why people of faith need to recognize that the Critical Race Theory movement is an existential threat to our nation’s founding principles and must be stopped.

LEACH: Bright Future for Legalized Marijuana in PA

In recent years an increasing number of states, both red and blue, have legalized the sale, possession, and use of marijuana. This is good news, Prohibition has been one of the most pernicious domestic policies in all of American history. It is racist, cruel, heartless, expensive, irrational, and devastating to entire communities. Ending it is long overdue. However, while I am proud to have written and sponsored Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law (Act 16 of 2016), the recreational prohibition still endures, and every day it persists is an injustice.

First, it is important to understand the history of prohibition. A Pennsylvanian named Harry Anslinger was head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics during alcohol prohibition in the 1930s. When that ended, Mr. Anslinger needed a new justification to fund his department. He opportunistically seized on Cannabis and began a crusade to make it illegal. But he didn’t argue that pot was bad for you. Instead, he testified to congress that “Marijuana makes Black people think they are just as good as White people” and “Marijuana makes White women desire sexual relationships with Black men.”

Thus, a policy steeped in racism was born. Even though cannabis use is approximately the same among all races, if you are Black, you are four times more likely to be arrested on marijuana-related charges than if you are White, and once arrested, are five times more likely to be incarcerated. Every year 20,000-25,000 Pennsylvanians, largely people of color, are thrust into the vortex of the criminal justice system. This often prevents them from continuing their higher education or from getting a job, permanently altering the trajectory of their lives.

Compelling arguments in favor of prohibition are difficult to find.

Some argue that marijuana is bad for you. But even if cannabis is in some way unhealthy, it is not the role of our criminal justice system to force healthy choices on free individuals. Cigarettes kill over a thousand Americans per day in truly horrific ways. Yet cigarettes are legal in all 50 states.

Comparing marijuana to alcohol shows even more starkly how irrational our policy is. Alcohol directly kills 95,000 people per year. Marijuana has no lethal dose. Zero people die of cannabis poisoning or overdoses each year. Alcohol is physically addictive, to the point that withdrawing from alcohol addiction too quickly can itself be fatal. A person can develop a habitual dependency on marijuana. But nobody quitting it will have delirium tremors or die. People using alcohol are often violent and reckless, cannabis makes people relaxed and mellow. There are virtually no reports of domestic violence committed by people under the influence of marijuana. Yet not only is alcohol legal in Pennsylvania, but it is also actually sold and promoted by the state itself.

The ban on cannabis also causes crime far more serious and violent than simple possession of marijuana. Because prohibition prohibits a legitimate and regulated market, it forces those who use cannabis to support an underground black market. Such a market can’t be governed by the courts and police like other businesses are. Instead, it is, of necessity, governed by criminals, drug syndicates, and violence. Eliminating prohibition will (like with alcohol), over time, end this illicit market. But under current law, every dollar that isn’t going to a licensed, vetted, regulated entrepreneur, ultimately goes instead to a violent drug cartel.

Some falsely argue cannabis is a “gateway” to harder drugs. Sure, maybe a high percentage of heroin users previously used cannabis. But an even higher percentage of heroin users previously drank milk. The point is that looking at what a hard drug user previously did is in no way proof of causation. A better metric is to look at how many marijuana users go on to use heroin. That is approximately 3 percent. The same studies that show this also show that alcohol is a far more effective gateway drug than cannabis. Yet nobody is calling for the return of alcohol prohibition.

Certainly, there will be some people who use marijuana irresponsibly. They may choose to get high rather than go to work, or they may drive while under the influence. However, in the states that have legalized recreational marijuana, there is no evidence that the rates of DUI-related car accidents or injuries have increased.

Responsible marijuana users shouldn’t pay the price of the small percentage of people who are negligent. We don’t turn people who drink beer or wine with dinner at home into criminals because some people drive drunk. That would be unfair and nonsensical. Marijuana users should be treated the same.

Legalization would benefit society in numerous ways. We’d save hundreds of millions of dollars per year if we didn’t have to arrest, process, prosecute, incarcerate and monitor people for smoking a plant that makes them feel giddy. But the economic benefits don’t end there. Cannabis is currently a  $35 billion per year industry. With the right legal changes, that could, within 5 years, grow to be a $75 billion per year industry. This will create literally millions of new jobs. So rather than destroying people’s careers, we’ll be giving them opportunities.

The best argument for legalizing marijuana can be found in the states that have already done it. The sky has not fallen. The world has not ended. Instead, well-regulated grow houses, dispensaries, cannabis lounges, and delivery businesses are thriving. People are freer. The prison populations are being reduced and tax dollars are coming in, instead of pouring out. This is clearly the direction in which history is going. It is time for Pennsylvania to step into this brighter future and consign cannabis prohibition to the ash-heap of history, where it belongs.