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Essential Pittsburgh: What Can Other Cities Learn from the Unrest in Baltimore?

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AP Photo/Matt Rourke
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A protester faces police enforcing a curfew Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Baltimore. A line of police behind riot shields hurled smoke grenades and fired pepper balls at dozens of protesters to enforce a citywide curfew.

In the wake of its 2001 riots, Cincinnati assembled an Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations, the results of which were released earlier this week. Cincinnati police studied community problem solving, revised use-of-force policies, worked to eliminate biased policing and collected data on police stops. In light of the recent events in Baltimore, former Pittsburgh Police officer and overseer of riot control Sheldon Williams, along with Andrew Conte, who was present at the 2001 Cincinnati riots, join us to discuss what other major cities can take away from large-scale riots. 

Giving his analysis of how the Baltimore case showed how rioting can sometimes interfere with the objectives of a demonstration, Conte says: 

"When you have this kind of rioting that goes beyond spreading the message to causing property damage and people are getting injured, they start to lose the impact of the message... The focus has to be on the message and -- yes, breaking the law, perhaps -- but doing it in a way that emboldens your message. In this case, they lost control of the narrative." -- Andrew Conte

Williams emphasizes that demonstrations like the ones seen in Baltimore can get out of hand easily, and that's why law enforcement needs to be ready with an appropriate response:

"This type of behavior has the ability to just spur out of control into a point where people -- and not only just property, but people -- can get hurt. So, that's why you have to have the response necessary to quell that type of activity" -- Sheldon Williams

Also in the program, Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conductor Robert Bernhardt talk about their upcoming collaborative performance.

Indigo Girls and the PSO (begins at 32:33)

Tonight at Heinz Hall Amy Ray and Emily Saliers -- better known as Indigo Girls -- perform for the first time with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Audiences will hear their signature songs such as "Closer to Fine," "Kid Fears" and "Power of Two" as part of this debut performance. We'll talk with Emily Saliers and PSO conductor Robert Bernhardt about the show. 

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be found here