Pittsburgh Put People First Statement on the Rosfeld Verdict March 2019

Thank you to Put People First Johnstown (March 27th) and Put People First Lancaster (March 29th) for holding vigils to lift up voices for Antwon Rose II, a teenager who had been shot in the back by a police officer last summer, and to call for justice for his family and for a just legal system.

It was wrong for the cop to walk away with no punishment; he and the legal system needs to be accountable. How can the system be said to have accountability if police walk away after shooting a 17-year old in the back? The cop can go back to work while Antwon is dead. What can the family do? Go to court to get compensation? There’s no price that can be paid to bring him back. Seen aside so many other similar cases in the country, this result shows that the lives of poor people of color are not valued and our rights as human beings are not defended. While this result was predictable, we believe it is wrong & shows the white supremacy of the systems of power.

We believe that white supremacy is the enemy of all poor people. It directly intimidates and hurts a large group of us – poor, working and dispossessed people of color. It divides us against each other to distract us from the powers that be and how they operate to control us through the economic & legal systems. It is also built to control poor, working and dispossessed white people. This unjust system tries to bribe us into thinking our safety lies with the powers that be, although when we talk to each other and reflect on what we have in common and how the current system hurts us all, we know that is not true.

We are sad, we are angry, we are grieving. Something needs to be done. This injustice is happening everywhere and there’s typically no consequences for the police. People in poor communities can’t trust the police for anything & don’t want to call them, for instance if someone breaks into your house, because they might come for you; you don’t know what will happen. We’re not safe.

What can we do about it? Members of Put People First believe that the only force that can end structural racism is poor, dispossessed & working people taking action together. We must work together to change the system. Our needs are our rights, and public safety, a just legal system and freedom from police violence, is a need and a right. We must build strong personal and political relationships across color lines and engage in political action that understands the history of racism. Unity involves putting what we have in common to the front, not erasing differences.

With that in mind, we welcome a serious discussion in our communities of the demands by the students who have shown leadership and have led actions following the verdict:

  1. Justice for Antwon Rose II
  2. Fire the FOP President
  3. Get rid of DA Stephen Zappala
  4. Full community control and democratic oversight over the police! Strengthen the Allegheny County Police Review Board by making it democratically elected and giving it the power to hire and fire, issue binding recommendations, and approve or deny police department funding requests.
  5. Convict and sentence killer cops. End the policies which have led to mass incarceration of black youth and end the school to prison pipeline.
  6. No more Pittsburgh police inside of city schools. Fully fund public schools and youth job programs to give kids the resources they need.
  7. Environmental justice now! Clean air and water for all, especially the black and brown working class neighborhoods most impacted by corporate and institutional negligence.
  8. Black homes matter! Build more affordable housing and create protections for renters to address the increasing shortage of affordable quality housing and gentrification of black and brown working class neighborhoods.
  9. Build a mass movement of youth and workers to fight for a new system and a better world free of police violence, racism and white supremacy.
  10. Work towards the collective liberation of all people and a world where police and prisons are obsolete. Until black and brown folks are liberated, no one is.

To talk more with Put People First! PA members in Pittsburgh contact Barbara at bawhite2012@gmail.com.

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