Identity & Justice

The identity and justice desk explores how the makeup of the Pittsburgh community is changing, and digs into issues of diversity and equity.

AP

One year ago, Michael Rosfeld, a white East Pittsburgh police officer, fatally shot Antwon Rose, a black unarmed teenager. In the immediate aftermath, many blamed local officials for Rosfeld’s actions and called for the small borough to make big changes.

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

A Syrian refugee who came to the U.S. three years ago plotted to bomb a church this spring to inspire followers of the Islamic State of Iraq, federal authorities said in announcing the man's arrest Wednesday. 

Senate Vote Puts Victims' Rights Amendment Before Voters

Jun 19, 2019
Bret Hartman / AP Images for Marsy'sLawForAll.org

Pennsylvania voters will decide whether to enumerate victims' rights in the state constitution, a proposal likely to appear on the November ballot.

The state Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to give its final approval, putting the state's version of Marcy's Law on the ballot as a constitutional amendment referendum.

JOHN FETTERMAN FOR LT. GOVERNOR / AP

It has been one year since Antwon Rose, a black, unarmed teenager, was fatally shot by white police officer Michael Rosfeld. Rosfeld fired at the teen as he fled a car that had been involved in a drive-by shooting.

Scott Finger / U.S. Army War College Photo Lab

The remains of Native American children who died while attending school in the midstate more than a century ago will soon be returned to their surviving family members.

Man Says He Abused 16 to 18 People, Now Wants Identity Shielded

Jun 14, 2019
Carolyn Kaster / AP

A man who told a grand jury investigating child sex abuse that he had victimized 16 to 18 people, but who couldn't be prosecuted because the cases were too old, is now seeking to keep his name and any other identifying information from being made public.

Details of the 2018 investigation and the man's testimony were disclosed this week when the state Supreme Court unsealed documents in the dispute over the grand jury's yet-to-be-released report, with any information that could identify the man blacked out.

Julio Cortez / AP

A Pennsylvania court has ruled that an evolving legal landscape means a woman can pursue her lawsuit claiming officials in the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese worked to conceal her alleged molestation by a priest. 

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

The Catholic Church spent more on lobbying efforts in Pennsylvania than in seven other northeastern U.S. states combined, according to a recent report covering 2011-2018.

The analysis, called “Church Influencing State: How the Catholic Church Spent Millions Against Survivors of Clergy Abuse,” draws a connection between lobbying expenditures and inaction on proposals that give victims of sexual abuse more chances to sue.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Fifty years ago police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar frequented by LGBTQ clientele in New York City. Those inside, led by transgender women of color tired of harassment and oppression, fought back. 

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Atop Mount Washington, in the sprawling Chatham Village community, is a large brick home with large windows and spacious balconies. Chatham Village resident, architect and amateur historian David Vater said it used to be known as the Bigham House, and was the residence of abolishionist lawyer Thomas Bigham. It was also a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Amy Sisk / 90.5 WESA

Three transgender Pennsylvanians are suing the state over a law that bars people who have been convicted of serious felonies from changing their names. The law is meant to prevent fraud, but the plaintiffs say it goes too far, and that they have a constitutional right to change their names.

AP file

Newly released documents pertaining to FBI surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., include deeply disturbing and potentially explosive allegations about the slain civil-rights leader’s extramarital sexual activities, and that he was present in a hotel room during an alleged rape. But some historians caution that there are reasons to doubt the claims.

Lawyers For Synagogue Massacre Suspect Allege FBI Meddling

May 30, 2019
Dave Klug / AP

Lawyers for the man accused of killing 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue say the FBI has been discouraging witnesses from talking to the defense, undermining the suspect's right to a fair trial.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

The state correctional institution in Fayette County is more than an hour’s drive south of Pittsburgh. And nestled among the forests of the Laurel Highlands, it is a world away from Pittsburgh’s urban streets.

Stephanie Strasburg / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On today’s program: Pittsburgh makes a new commitment to equity with a dedicated city office; prosecuting the opioid crisis is sometimes a supply-and-demand challenge; gender-sexuality alliances are evolving in Pittsburgh-area schools; and survivors of sexual assault in local Amish and Mennonite communities share their stories.

City's Office of Equity to replace Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment
(00:00 – 6:18)

Niven Sabherwal / 90.5 WESA

For nearly four decades, GSAs have been a supportive environment for LGBTQ students and community members. 

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

A lawyer for the man charged in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre says he still wants to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence.

Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania corrections secretary John Wetzel remembers that when he toured prisons in Germany and the Netherlands several years ago, it was a “transformative experience.”

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Earlier this month the federal Department of Health and Human Services announced it had finalized a policy that would protect health care providers against discrimination if they refuse to care for someone based on their “moral convictions.” 

Andrew Rush / AP

The first of five parish mergers in the Pittsburgh Catholic Dioceses’ reorganization plan will go into effect July 1. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The governor of Pennsylvania has ordered flags to fly at half-staff to honor a state trooper who died on duty over the weekend in suburban Philadelphia.

State police say other troopers responded to the westbound lanes of I-276 in Bucks County at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday after 58-year-old Trooper Donald Bracket failed to answer radio transmissions.

Police say he was found unresponsive outside his patrol vehicle after "an apparent medical episode" and was pronounced dead at Jefferson Torresdale Hospital in Philadelphia.

U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigations

International law enforcement partners announced Thursday that a large malware conspiracy network has been taken down. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, those behind the GozNym malware attacks attempted to steal an estimated $100 million from victims.

Cambria County Prison via AP

A new civil lawsuit alleges a pediatric practice in Johnstown knew one of its physicians was a threat to young patients, and took steps to protect him before he was arrested.

Five former patients of Johnstown pediatrician Johnnie Barto are seeking financial damages from his employers. In March, Barto was sentenced to at least 79 years in prison for sexually assaulting 31 children, most of them patients. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

On paper, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police appears to be effective at investigating rape cases. In 2017, the bureau reported it closed 58 percent of its rape cases, according to the city’s response to a WESA Right To Know request. The 2017 national average was 36.5 percent, according to national crime-reporting statistics kept by the FBI.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

A priest with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has been placed on administrative leave while officials investigate claims that he had "inappropriate contact" with adult women.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

Employees of Pittsburgh's parks community and advocates who utilize park spaces want more diversity in leadership roles. This will make minorities feel more comfortable in outdoor spaces, they said at the fourth Pennsylvania Parks and Recreation Exchange, held at Frick Park on Friday.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

A former Pittsburgh police officer sued the city and top police brass in federal court Thursday, alleging he was wrongly arrested and then fired from the police bureau in 2017.

Katie Blackley / WESA

Hatred manifests itself in flyers distributed in certain neighborhoods, in internet postings, and as Pittsburghers know too well--through violent, even deadly acts. Is the hate movement increasing? 

Kathleen Blee, dean of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and the College of General Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, says yes, and its participants have learned from their forebearers.

Vincenzo Pinto / Pool Photo via AP

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is criticizing the Catholic Church, saying the new rules regarding reporting of sexual misconduct don’t go far enough.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

A dark net website that gave users access to illegal items has been taken down, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in Pittsburgh Wednesday. The two men who ran the site have been indicted. 

Pages