More than fifty people attended the East Pittsburgh council meeting tonight. They called on officials to institute police reforms and to fire Michael Rosfeld, the officer who shot and killed Antwon Rose last month.
Mayor Louis Payne opened the meeting by addressing Rose’s shooting.
“We are all greatly saddened for the tragic event that cost Antwon his young life,” he said. “We are engaged in an evaluation of the operation of our police department and borough in the spirit of correcting any shortcomings that we may have. This will take some time, but our commitment is to get it done as soon as possible.”
During a public comment period, people from East Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh spoke first, followed by nonresidents. Many addressed the reality of changing demographics: while the borough of 1,800 people used to be a predominantly white municipality, the majority of the population is now black. All five council members and the mayor are white. Others called for Rosfeld to be fired.
"He has been charged with criminal homicide," said Fawn Walker Montgomery. "Nobody charged with that should be able to keep their job."
When asked about diversity training for police, the goals of reform and a timeline for implementing those changes, Payne said he couldn’t answer.
If council fails to act they will be voted out, attendees told them.
After the meeting, Payne responded to calls for resignation.
"As far as voting us out of office, if the people of East PIttsburgh want me out of office, I’ll resign," he said. "But not right now. Because there’s work to be done and I'm not going to turn my back on the people who need me right now."
Councilwoman Mary Carol Kennedy said she learned a lot at the meeting, specifically that East Pittsburgh residents are afraid of the police.
"I was not aware of those fears. I really was not, that was new information for me," she said. "I really appreciated knowing their concerns. It was very hard to sit there and not respond to some of the things but this wasn’t the place to do that. I really did want to listen and I did. I didn’t hear, I listened."
Tuesday night’s council meeting was the first since Rose was fatally shot in June.