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June 8-12 Explained: Local Officials Rethink Police Tactics, Black Lives Matter Mural Updated

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
A painting of Antwon Rose Jr., a black teenager who was fatally shot by an East Pittsburgh Police officer in 2018, is among the portraits included on the Allegheny River wharf's Black Lives Matter mural.

There’s a discussion happening in Pittsburgh and around the country about the ways we as a society think about policing. People are questioning whether armed officers are really the ones who should be handling issues of mental illness, domestic disputes and broken tail lights.


The idea of diverting resources away from police and toward other social services has suddenly entered the mainstream. Minneapolis City Council is making moves to completely disband their police department.

In Pittsburgh, the proposals have been more measured, including an effort to end the use of what are called “less lethal” weapons for crowd control at protests.

Pittsburgh City Council discussed police reforms on Tuesday as protests about police brutality continue nationwide. Council will weigh several new proposals, including a handful offered by District 9 Councilor Ricky Burgess.

Burgess' legislation includes a bill that would require officers to step in if they witness an officer using inappropriate force or violating someone’s rights. Another would prohibit the city from buying military equipment and weaponry. A third would take $250,000 from the budget for police salaries and put it into a violence-prevention fund. 

Helping explain the headlines this week:

Meanwhile, a new mural along the Allegheny River wharf that reads “Black Lives Matter” has caused some controversy--but not because of the message. Controversy erupted online when it was learned that no African Americans had been involved in the project, either as planners or artists.


Pittsburgh Explainer is hosted by Liz Reid and produced by Katie Blackley. New episodes come out every Friday. Subscribe on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher and Spotify.

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA and 91.3 WYEP, 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.