On today's program: Michelle Kenney, Antwon Rose’s mother, pushes for new policing laws; and Friday marks Juneteenth, a celebration that marks the end of slavery on June 19, 1865.
Michelle Kenney: “ ... any officer should be treated just as any civilian when committing murder.”
(00:00 — 9:53)
Two years ago this week, Antwon Rose, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by then-East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld, who is white. In March 2019, a jury acquitted Rosfeld of all charges including first- and third-degree murder.
Now, Rose's mother, Michelle Kenney, is calling for police reforms including legislation to create a database of complaints against officers for future hiring.
Kenney says the database is critical.
“I just don’t think people understand how many officers are actually transferred to other departments with bad reputations that they take with them from their previous employment.”
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro says that the proposed legislation is the first step towards restoring trust in law enforcement.
“This, right now, is the right thing to do and this needs to be a down payment on the kind of progress we need to make in Pennsylvania when it comes to reform,” he says.
Kenney recommends that the database should be available to law enforcement only, not the public.
“We have to get to the point that we have an understanding and there’s some trust there. Right now there is none. We’re trying to develop that,” she says. “If you’re a good cop, this list will not affect you at all, other than the fact that you won’t be put in a predicament that you end up working with a bad cop.”
Juneteenth has seen “added significance” in recent years
(9:57 — 18:12)
Friday is Juneteenth, a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865 that the military commander of Texas proclaimed enslaved people in that territory were free.
According to Samuel Black, director of African American Programs at the Senator John Heinz History Center, Juneteenth has taken on added importance in recent years.
“I think that outside the black community it’s being recognized a lot more and the significance is a lot more, especially for those people who are learning about Juneteenth for the first time," Black says, adding that people are making connections to the activism today.
Though slavery was officially abolished more than 150 years ago, its effects are still clear today.
“During the Civil War, you had nearly 4 million people in this country who were enslaved,” Black says. “And for them to almost overnight be declared free really is a tremendous aspect and something that we’re still dealing with today.”
The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.