Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Hundreds stood in silence at the steps of the county courthouse while Christian Carter, a recent high-school graduate and organizer of his school’s walkout for gun violence, read from a poem by Antwon Rose, the 17-year-old black teenager who earlier that week was shot in the back by police as he ran away from them, unarmed.
“I am confused and afraid / I wonder what path I will take / I hear that there’s only two ways out / I see mothers bury their sons / I want my mom to never feel that pain,” he read, and the crowd let out a collective groan. “I am confused and afraid.”
Shortly after responding to a shooting the night of June 19, East Pittsburgh police spotted a car they say resembled one seen leaving the scene with bullet holes in its rear windows. When police pulled the car over to conduct a traffic stop, Antwon and another young man ran from the car. An East Pittsburgh police officer shot Antwon three times in the back as he ran away unarmed, as a harrowing video taken by a witness showed. The officer responsible for the shooting, recently identified as Officer Michael Rosfeld, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. Police later determined the car carrying Antwon prior to his death was a jitney, or informal cab, and had no involvement in the prior shooting.
The rally’s organizers—which, among several, included Youth Power Collective, a group launched by the organizers of Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts high school’s walkouts to protest gun violence—called for an open investigation into the circumstances that led to Antwon’s death. The speakers made frequent reference to the history of gun violence and police violence in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Summer Lee, Democratic candidate for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and member of the Democratic Socialists of America, reminded the crowd that five other students in the Woodland Hills School District have lost their lives to gun violence since September 2017. Attorney Joel Sansone, who in 2014 represented 18-year-old Jordan Miles after three undercover police officers wrongfully arrested him as he walked to his grandmother’s house, beating him until his face was swollen and bruised, reminded those who had gathered about the long-running epidemic of police violence in the city.