We 'Want Our Voices To Be Heard,' Says Black, Young And Educated Founder

Jul 7, 2020


 On today's program: Black, Young and Educated is organizing some of Pittsburgh’s biggest protests against racism and police brutality; a new proposed ordinance could prohibit tear gas, bean bag rounds, and some other crowd dispersal methods in Allegheny County; and architect David Lewis leaves a lasting legacy in Pittsburgh. 

“We have to listen to the kids and the teenagers”
(00:00 — 7:47)

Over the last six weeks, most of the larger protests, marches and demonstrations in Pittsburgh against racism and police violence toward African Americans have been organized and led by teenagers.

“We definitely want our voices to be heard more now than ever,” says Nick Anglin, who along with four other high school students co-founded Black, Young and Educated in 2019.

Anglin says he’s been surprised by the size of the crowds and the reaction to BYE protests because young people aren’t usually taken seriously. 

“I think there is a shift in instead of adults being the teachers,” says Anglin. "I think we have a lot to teach adults. We are more accepting, more progressive.”

He  says one of the group’s priorities is to change Pennsylvania’s use of force law that says police officers are justified in using deadly force when, in the moment, they feel it's the only recourse to prevent serious injury to themselves or others, or if they believe it necessary to prevent a suspect’s escape from arrest for a suspected felony. Anglin says he believes the law is too subjective.

“We don’t want it to say that if a police officer believes that if someone is a threat they can use lethal force. We want it to say that a police officer has to have reasonable doubt in order to use lethal force.”

Anglin says that the time is right to make these changes in Pennsylvania. 

“I’ve seen this play out time and time again. I’ve seen this with Trayvon Martin, with Tamir Rice. I’ve seen this with Sandra Bland. I’ve seen this with Antwon Rose Jr. You know, and I’ve seen this with George Floyd, and I’ve seen enough. So I definitely need some change.”

Proposed legislation could limit “less lethal” crowd control weapons
(7:49 — 11:27)

On June 1 in East Liberty, Pittsburgh police dispersed a group of mostly peaceful protesters marching against police brutality using “explosives, chemical agents and ammunition which is known to seriously wound and sometimes kill,” according to a federal lawsuit filed against city of Pittsburgh officials.

 

Shortly thereafter, Allegheny County Council members Bethany Hallam and Olivia Bennett proposed an ordinance that would prohibit county police from using “less lethal” crowd control and dispersal weapons, including tear gas, flash bang grenades, bean bag rounds and “sponge” rounds. The council’s Health and Human Services Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to discuss the proposal.

 

Post-Gazette reporter Ashley Murray, who has been covering this story, says that several amendments are expected to be introduced at Wednesday’s hearing.

 

Remembering Pittsburgh architect David Lewis

(11:30 — 18:03)

Architect, urban designer, historic preservationist and professor David Lewis was known for helping to remake Pittsburgh and shaping the city’s urban footprint. He died June 30 at age 98.

 

He prioritized community-based planning and historic preservation, particularly in his own neighborhood of Homestead.

“He lived there, worked for the neighborhood, on behalf of the neighborhood until he died,” says Arthur Ziegler, president and co-founder of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

 

Lewis started Urban Design Associates, a design and architecture firm that includes community voices in the design process. According to Ziegler, Lewis believed in development from the "bottom up."

"Top down we found objectionable because that means certain people who feel they know what's right for other people make their decisions that affect many, many people's lives," Ziegler says.

 

Lewis was also known for his work with Carnegie Mellon University’s Remaking Cities Institute.

 

He made “an extraordinary, consistent commitment” to Homestead, Ziegler says, and will be remembered for it. 

 

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.