Work begins on memorial park at Philly building collapse site [photos]

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A ceremony Wednesday marked the beginning of construction for a memorial on the site of the 2013 Salvation Army building collapse in Center City.  The memorial is designed to honor the memory of  the six people who died — and send a message.

Mayor Jim Kenney and family members of those who died in the June 5, 2013, building collapse used silver shovels to officially break ground for the memorial park.  The sanctuary at 22nd and Market streets will remind developers that cost should never be a priority over human lives, said Kenney.

“The best way to memorialize the people who lost their lives here is to never allow it to happen again and to take the measures to make sure it doesn’t happen,” he said.

More than a dozen people were injured in addition to the six who died when a building under demolition collapsed onto the Salvation Army thrift store. The demolition contractor and a subcontractor were sentenced to prison terms in the collapse.

Nancy Winkler, who lost her daughter, spoke for the families, saying the park will be a symbol now and forever.

“By remembering those who died here, the memorial will serve as an enduring reminder that no land development plan, no parking lot, no office tower and profit that they may generate is more precious than a human being,” she said.

City managing director Michael Di Berardinis said the park is a gesture of respect.

“There are times in the life of the city where we have to remember, respect and honor folks in a special way,” he said. “And I think that this park will do just that.”

Jerry Sweeney, the CEO of Bradywine Reality Trust, said those in the development and labor community also did a lot to make the memorial happen.

“This memorial park will take its rightful place in the city as a reminder that development must be done safely and responsibly,” Sweeney said.

The Salvation Army donated the property for the memorial, while nearly $1 million in labor also has been donated. 

The park, expected to be finished by the fall, will consist of three granite slabs more than 8 feet tall with two windows in each to represent each of the six victims, whose names will be etched into the stone.

Disclosure: Jerry Sweeney is on WHYY’s board of directors.

16 people in New Jersey face child pornography charges after allegedly using an online file-sharing network to download videos of young children being sexually abused.

 

Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy says the defendants range in age from 16 to 72.

 

“They include a fifth grade teacher at Winslow Elementary School in Vineland, a bus driver for the Sparta School District, a 17-year-old from Hudson County who had 122 files of child porn on his computer and who was selling child pornography to other users on the Internet in exchange for Amazon gift cards.”

 

Lougy says the arrests send a message that such behavior is a serious crime.

 

“Anyone who links themselves to this network of users, we will come after with the full extent of the penalties that we have. And we want them to know that we’re watching.  We’re monitoring the networks where these things are going on, and we’re using those and other investigative techniques to identify those users in New Jersey.”    

 

Lougy says the videos are repulsive and the offenders who recirculate them motivate the child predators who make them to produce more.

 

If convicted, those arrested could face five-to-ten year prison terms.

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