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Protesters Demand Action In East Pittsburgh

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Protesters gathered in East Pittsburgh Thursday afternoon, pressuring borough officials to take action and responsibility in the wake of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose at the hands of one of its officers. 

Participants were given programs with resources and an agenda for police reforms. Demonstrators asked East Pittsburgh officials to change their hiring policy for police, which they say allowed Michael Rosfeld to become an officer in their borough, despite accounts that he had a history of aggression.

East Pittsburgh officials have remained mostly quiet since Rose's death, aside from releasing a statement Thursday, two days after the shooting. It offers condolences and says, in part, "This is a very stressful time for our community. We are seeking truth and answers but the process takes time."

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was unable to get a hold of East Pittsburgh Mayor Louis Payne, police chief Lori Fruncek or council president Dennis Simon for a story Wednesday.  Organizer Fawn Walker-Montgomery said she's troubled by the government's lack of transparency. 

"I mean, it's like they're ignoring us," Walker-Montgomery said. "So that's why we figured we'd come down here today."

Rosfeld, the officer who shot Rose, was charged with criminal homicide Wednesday. Protesters called for a conviction for Rosfeld and for Judge Regis Welsh to rescind Rosfeld’s $250,000 unsecured bond. That bothers activist Rose Price, who said it’s wrong that the officer is released considering he shot and killed Antwon Rose.

"When his birthday, Christmas come...they gotta go see him at the cemetery, but [Rosfeld] gets to sit home with [his] family," Price said. "Right is right and wrong is wrong, I feel like he should be behind bars."


The protesters first gathered outside of the East Pittsburgh municipal building, then the group of about 75-100 marched down Electric Avenue. Allegheny County police escorted the group and blocked off traffic as they moved. 


At the rally, Duquesne mayor Nickole Nesby, who worked with Rose on several volunteer projects said, “He was bright and charismatic.”


Rose's death has sparked days of protests, shutting down traffic on major highways and intersections. Protesters have been calling for justice and criticizing Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala.

Rose's funeral was held Monday.

*This post was updated at 8:17 p.m. June 28, 2018 to include comments from organizers.

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community.
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