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Protesters, Family Of East Hills 1-Year-Old To Demand Attorney General Take Over Homicide Case

The family of Marcus White, a 15-month-old boy who died in a 2013 East Hills shooting, called for the state to step in to prosecute their case Tuesday. They filed a victims’ rights complaint against the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office Monday.

Paul Jubas, the family’s attorney, stood next to White’s mother Jameela Tyler when he spoke to members of the media Tuesday.

“We are calling on the Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro to come in and prove to this family, prove to this city, prove to this county that baby Marcus' life matters," he said. A formal letter requesting the action will be sent to Shapiro's office, according to Jubas. 

Police arrested Gregory Parker of Wilkinsburg last weekend in connection with the child’s death. It’s been seven years since the shooting.

Jubas claimed the DA’s office knew for years who killed the toddler but didn't act. Parker had been set to testify in the trial of a man accused in a 2016 mass shooting in Wilkinsburg. Shortly before the trial last winter, defense attorneys discovered Parker had allegedly confessed to the crime in 2018.

Distrust of Zappala was echoed by a couple dozen protesters who gathered in front of the City County Building Tuesday evening. Organizers with Pittsburgh, I Can’t Breathe spoke about their lack of confidence in the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office. Critics said DA Stephen Zappala has botched other high-profile cases with Black victims.

Organizers gave speeches Tuesday as they spread out to block off Grant Street. Tanisha Long, who hosts a local Black Lives Matter Facebook group, asked attendees to think about what they could do in their communities to put people of color into offices like the District Attorney.

“I know the protests will die out eventually,” she said. “But we need you to keep your foot on the gas.”

Protesters then marched to join another rally already in progress in the Cultural District. Trans YOUniting, a trans-based non-profit that provides support to the transgender community in Pittsburgh, organized the march.

Those in attendance marched on to the City County building where organizers called for support of Black trans lives in Pittsburgh. Volunteers grilled hot dogs and hamburgers and performers took turns voguing, dipping and cat walking.

Police were present at the rally but distant.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.