Ongoing Protests, Conversation as Community Mourns Antwon Rose Jr.

Katie Phillips Access to Health + Wellness, Active + Engaged Residents, Advocacy, Diverse + Connected Region, General, Opportunities for Success

In the wake of the death of Antwon Rose Jr., who was shot and killed by East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld on June 19, 2018, community members have ramped up efforts for urgent police-community relations reform.

Community and activist groups have been at the forefront of these calls, staging protests in Pittsburgh as well as East Pittsburgh to draw attention to the injustice of Antwon Rose Jr.’s murder as well as to the pattern of injustices that so many people, primarily people of color and other marginalized populations, face at the hands of police.

On Tuesday night, East Pittsburgh held its first council meeting since Antwon Rose’s shooting. WESA reports that over 50 people attended, and many “called on officials to institute police reforms and to fire Michael Rosfeld.” Community members spoke during a public comment period to the five council members and Mayor Louis Payne, all of whom are white while the majority of the East Pittsburgh population is black.

On Tuesday afternoon, another conversation took place in Wilkinsburg to discuss police-community relations. The three-hour hearing was convened by Democratic state lawmakers from the PA house and senate. WESA reports that they discussed “police use of force, diversity education for officers and how to increase public oversight of law enforcement.”

The hope for the conversation and community testimony was to develop a legislative package of reforms to be introduced when the state legislature is back in session in September. However, it was also noted that simply having policies is not enough. State Rep. Dom Costa (D-Stanton Heights) said, “if you don’t train to each one of those policies, they’re not worth the paper they’re written on.”

Rep. Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia) also shared his view that “When I look at a lot of the police shootings a lot of times, what has happened, in my opinion, is that officers could not see the humanity of the person they were shooting at.”

The PUMP Advocacy + Public Policy agenda calls for spaces and opportunities to address diversity, inclusion, social justice, and racism. Furthermore, we believe in the value of opportunities to engage with elected officials and influence public policy.

Whether conversations happen through peaceful protests, community dialogues with elected officials, or dinner table conversations with family and friends, we know they are essential to creating the policies, reforms, and sociocultural shifts that will make our region the most dynamic, diverse place where everybody has equitable opportunities and access in order to succeed and thrive.

We hope to see continued opportunities for community members to share their stories, perspectives, and ideas to reform police practices and keep communities safe. These conversations are sacred to our democracy – protesters, regional leaders, and community members who speak out on these issues should be treated with respect and their concerns should be heard.

We’re grateful to everyone who has helped to elevate this important issue and look forward to continued efforts to achieve regional equity for all. If you know about activities, news, or events that we should share with community members regarding this or other issues that align with the PUMP agenda, please let us know by emailing lindsay@pump.org or submitting events to our community calendar.