Man Arrested for Brutal Murder

Live from the Ledger: Newark man arrested in triple murder. A man was caught in connection with the brutal murder of three people in a West Ward apartment last week in which the apartment was set on fire to cover up the crime.

Homicide investigators today arrested a 24-year-old Newark man who police say was one of the attackers in the grisly Sept. 2 shooting deaths of three people in a West Ward apartment.

John Wessells was taken into custody after he showed up for work at a Newark moving company, where he’d worked on and off for the past couple of months, police and co-workers said. He was charged with three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and illegal weapons possession.

Brazilian Festival on Ferry Street

Today wrapped up the Brazilian Festival, celebrating Brazilian Independence Day. The Newark Star Ledger has a piece about Brazilian culture in the city: 2-day fest salutes culture of Brazil.

At the first Brazilian festival in Newark 14 years ago, a modest number of visitors came to the area just outside of Penn Station to celebrate Brazilian culture. The party extended to Union Street a few blocks away.

As the years passed and the population of Brazilians grew in the Ironbound, the festival moved to the area known as Five Corners — where Ferry Street meets Wilson Avenue — to accommodate the growing number of attendees.

These days, the two-day September festival attracts some 30,000 visitors, who come from all over the tri-state area to hear local artists perform Brazilian music, and to sample typical dishes such as “feijao propeiro,” a beans and pork dish, and “tutu a mineira,” a type of beef stew topped with eggs and sausage.

A couple of Flickr users have taken some great photos of the festivities and the fantastic food:

Booker Announces Police Director

New York Times: New York City Crime Strategist Picked as Director of Newark Police Force. Looks like a good pick by the Mayor: McCarthy is experienced, analytical, and high tech. Here’s hoping he can produce results quickly.

The mayor’s choice, Garry F. McCarthy, a 25-year veteran of the force, has been the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner of operations for the past seven years, a period in which violent crime has dropped significantly. Mr. McCarthy, 47, helped set up Compstat, the data-collection program for crime statistics embraced by the Giuliani administration and since adopted by police departments nationwide.

“Garry McCarthy is the leader Newark has been looking for,” said Mayor Booker, who has made public safety the linchpin of his administration. “I’m confident that with his leadership, combined with all of our efforts across the city, we will create a nationally recognized model for crime reduction.”

Newark makes strides, local urban municipalities struggle

Newark Star Ledger: In Newark, Signs of Hope. Katie Wang’s article about Newark last week indicates that the percentage of Newark citizens in poverty has dropped four points, and that household incomes are up 14 percent. Some are calling it a sign that the city is on the rise again — slow as it may be — but Wang notes anecdotally that surrounding areas continue to struggle as the poor are displaced.

Jon Van Til, a professor of urban studies at Rutgers-Camden, said the figures support a national trend that shows cities on the rebound after being abandoned.

“Newark has in recent years not been viewed as viable, but there’s been an awful lot of effort to do that center city revitalization,” said Van Til. “These figures might be consistent with a bit of what we are beginning to see elsewhere of the displacement of poor families.”

Despite the increase, the household median income of $30,665 is still well below the state median of $61,672. And the percentage living in poverty is almost double the national figure of 13 percent. The Census Bureau defines poverty as a family of four living on an income of $20,000.