Demonstrators shut down the Parkway East for more than five hours Thursday night, backing up traffic for miles while protesting the death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose at the hands of a police officer.
The protest, the second held on Thursday, started as a small rally in the suburb East Pittsburgh, where officer Michael Rosfeld shot Rose. It was the second protest of the day, hundreds packed a Downtown city block that afternoon. But the crowd grew, and around 9 p.m., demonstrators marched onto the interstate. They apparently did so in part because of rumors that police had closed the road off to keep people from attending the rally. That didn't actually happen, but protester Nicky Jo Dawson said she was proud to have shut down the road.
"I'm sorry if, you know, people had to get home to dinner," she said. "But maybe now you’ll notice what’s going on, you know - stop living in privilege and with a blind eye. And if it doesn’t touch your community or your neighborhood, you don’t care about it. We’re going to make you care."
With police on hand and drivers looking on, protesters spent more than five hours blockading the road. They chanted Rose's name, called out "no justice, no peace," and warned they might stay all night. As it turned out, the last of the protesters left shortly after 2 a.m., with state police in riot gear bearing down on them. At least one arrest was reported, but most demonstrators dispersed after being warned that police would soon arrest anyone remaining.
Rose was shot as he fled a traffic stop. On Thursday, Allegheny County police confirmed the officer who shot Rose was Michael Rosfeld. Police suspected the vehicle was involved in an earlier shooting. Rose was unarmed, though two guns were found in the vehicle.
Part of the encounter was captured on video and posted to Facebook by a bystander. Rosfeld spoke with a WTAE-TV reporter who went to his house Thursday and said he had not watched the news and was unaware the video even existed. Rosfeld said he could not talk about the shooting because of the open investigation.
Rosefeld has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation.
Pepper Nicholson was one of the demonstrators. She says her son was also 17 when he was shot and killed.
“It’ll be 25 years next month for me. But it was yesterday. So, I feel all this pain. I feel it every day for a mother that lost their child, and fathers, and brothers and sisters, you know what I’m saying?”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.