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Interviews of, Articles about, and Books that Include Sonia

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Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Woman, 27, Fights To Be Park Guard

This article appeared in the Bucks County, PA, Courier-Times, June 25, 1970, Page 8, Col. 2.

PHILADELPHIA (UPI) - A 27-year-old bru- nette who wants to be near nature and likes to ride horses continued her battle here Wed- nesday to prove her eligibility to be hired as a police officer in the city's sprawling Fair- mount Park system.

A three-man panel from the state Human Relations Commission listened to opposing arguments Wednesday on charges raised by Joanne Rossi, that her rights were violated when the city rejected her application for a job as a policeman.

Park police Superintendent Philip Cella testified that he was opposed to female park police officers because most lack the strength to perform the job's rigorous duties. "They might have to patrol lonely areas at night. I don't believe women are physically capable of protecting them- selves," he said.

Among witnesses at the five-hour session were a woman attorney from Virginia and a policewoman lieutenant from New York City.

Lawyer Sonia Pressman, of Arlington, Va., told the panel, "women should be wary when someone wants to protect you from hazards, because they want to protect you out of a job."

Her remarks drew a heated response from deputy city solicitor Albert Persi- chetti who told the commissioners that the attorney was using the witness stand as a "soap box," because as a member of the Equal Opportunity Commission she had traveled around the country speaking on equal opportunity for women.

Felisa Shtritzer, a New York City police lieutenant who outlined her duties as a policewoman said, "In New York we have to do all that we're assigned to, but chivalry prevails and men perform most of the haz- ardous tasks, but if necessary we could do it."

The commission adjourned the hearing without announcing a decision. They're expected to issue a ruling at a later date.

The applicant, who says she's 5-foot-6 and weighs 106 pounds, said she had con- sidered the hazards of a park policeman's job but that these didn't seem to be the most important factors for employment.

"After graduating from college I thought of what to do and I thought I'd like to be a Fairmount Park guard because I enjoy being in the open and near nature and riding horses. And the pay's not bad either."

The pay currently is $ 8,478 and will go to $ 9,378 after July 1.