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.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Chanting the names of black men and women killed by law enforcement, hundreds gathered to march Sunday from Mt. Washington to Market Square.

Racist Birding Incident Sparks Joyful Online Event #BlackBirdersWeek

Jun 5, 2020
Courtesy Juita Martinez

  Many people watched a video taken in Central Park in late May in shock and disgust. A white woman threatened a black birder, who tried to get her to leash her dog. She purposely called out his race on a phone call to the police. But the incident has sparked an online action that is bringing joy to many called #BlackBirdersWeek on Twitter and Instagram.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pittsburgh police charged Natalie Lewis, 24, and Abigail Rubio, 24, Thursday for allegedly throwing water bottles at police from a nearby apartment during a protest in East Liberty Monday. Documents say that Rubio, who filmed police and protesters from her balcony and later told reporters about a subsequent encounter with police a day after the protest, was arrested Friday.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said Thursday he will wait for the results of two investigations before drawing conclusions about why and how police broke up a protest in East Liberty Monday. In the meantime, he vowed to adopt new police reforms — a pledge that received a tepid response from some local black activists, who said the city must go farther.

Cities See Protests Rage On As Wolf Vows Changes To Policing

Jun 4, 2020
Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Large protests over police treatment of black people arose in Pittsburgh and Bethlehem on Thursday, while Philadelphia braced for more marches and demonstrations on the night before some pandemic-related restrictions will end in the city.

Kiley Koscinski / 90.5 WESA

Scores of people surrounded East Liberty Presbyterian Church on Wednesday for an afternoon vigil, marking the fifth straight day of local demonstrations in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody last week.

Marc Levy / AP

Philadelphia will be under curfew again for a fifth straight night Wednesday, as Gov. Tom Wolf marched in Harrisburg with demonstrators protesting police violence against black people and racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

On today's program: A recap of the results from Pennsylvania’s delayed primary election; courts in Allegheny County reopen with new restrictions; and police look for more information about the homicide of Tionna Lashay Highsmith, who died this year after being wounded 15 years ago.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pittsburgh’s cooling centers might not be able to open this summer. The facilities are typically housed in senior centers, which serve a community most vulnerable to severe effects of the coronavirus.

According to a city spokesman, senior centers will be primarily focused on offering meals and activities to the elderly. It’s unclear if the facilities will later be able to open to the general public as a place to cool off. 

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Protesters in downtown Pittsburgh marched from Downtown to the South Side and back Tuesday afternoon and early evening. They staged sit-ins outside the Allegheny County Jail, on East Carson Street, and in Market Square. Organizers say they are seeking to bring awareness to the disproportionate policing and incarceration of black men in the United States.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police has sparked waves of protests across the country to oppose police brutality. On Monday afternoon, officials held a press conference to discuss how a Saturday demonstration in Pittsburgh devolved into a clash between protestors and the Bureau of Police, and ended with property destruction, tear gas, and rubber bullets.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

 


On today's program: After two days of protests of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Pittsburgh demonstrations end in a peaceful vigil; and a Liberian-born poet discusses her latest collection of poetry. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Religious leaders gathered at Freedom Corner in Pittsburgh’s Hill District Monday afternoon to pray for peace in the wake of the death of George Floyd. 

90.5 WESA

It will be at least another three months before jury trials resume at the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. Last week, the court’s president judge, Kim Clark, announced that due to the continuing threat of COVID-19, she would extend a prohibition on those proceedings through the end of August.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The day after a peaceful Pittsburgh demonstration downtown turned chaotic, leaving a police car burned, businesses looted and damaged and a multiple reporters injured, community members met for a peaceful vigil in East Liberty around racial justice.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A group of several dozen protesters is marching through Downtown Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon, after gathering in Market Square.

Much Of Central Philadelphia To Be Closed Off After Violence

May 31, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

Officials in Philadelphia announced plans to close off much of the center of the city Sunday after peaceful protests over George Floyd's death turned into a night of destruction with store windows smashed near City Hall, merchandise taken from stores and police and other vehicles and structures set afire.

Kiley Koscinski / 90.5 WESA

Cleanup crews got to work all over Downtown Pittsburgh on Sunday morning to remove debris, spray paint and broken glass. Public Works and Pittsburgh citizens scrubbed graffiti from statues, windows and buildings.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

It began as a march, one of dozens across the United States, to protest the death of a black man at the hands of Minneapolis police. Thousands marched through Downtown Pittsburgh and the Lower Hill District, and even as they chanted “no justice, no peace,” the police kept their distance.

That changed after about two hours, as police cars were burned, buildings vandalized, and police used tear gas and horses to disperse crowds. Shortly after 7:30 p.m., public safety officials had declared a curfew to go into effect from 8:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday. 

90.5 WESA

Allegheny County has settled some key issues in a lawsuit over its handling of the coronavirus at the county jail, with prison-reform advocates winning several concessions.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Over the last six weeks, Pennsylvania state prisons have temporarily released 153 people under an emergency program designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 behind bars — a total even prison officials say is lower than expected.

AP

 

On today's program: Applications for SNAP benefits are up; today is the deadline for mail-in ballot requests; a preview of one state House election; and a Pennsylvania company pivots from making football jerseys to face masks. 

Frank Franklin II / AP

State Health Secretary Rachel Levine has stressed the importance of taking it slow when reopening businesses in Pennsylvania. “Yellow means caution,” she said at a recent press conference. That sentiment has been echoed by Pittsburgh’s religious groups grappling with whether or not to reopen their doors to worshippers.

YouTube

In the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s first live-streamed oral argument, the justices raised doubts Tuesday about whether state trial courts can ban people on probation from using medical marijuana.

1Hood Media / Facebook

 

On today's program: 1Hood Media is creating COVID-19 content by and for Pittsburgh’s black and brown communities; PennDOT offers guidelines for car inspections and registration renewals during the pandemic; and the economic shutdown is giving scientists a unique opportunity to study air quality. 

Katie Meyer / WITF

Immigrant families detained in Berks Family Residential Center were asked to sign forms this week that could lead to their children being separated from their parents, according to attorneys representing them.

Matt Rourke / AP

A federal judge is giving most claimants until Nov. 13 to seek compensation over child sexual abuse from the Harrisburg Roman Catholic Diocese, which sought bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

The order signed last week by Chief Bankruptcy Judge Henry Van Eck also gave governmental entities until Dec. 11 to file proofs of claims for debts.

The diocese issued a statement on Wednesday that encouraged anyone with a claim involving “any actual or alleged sexual offense” by its clergy, teachers, employees or volunteers to submit a claims form.

Pa. Department of Corrections

The State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon reported Tuesday that 136 inmates and 38 staff have tested positive for COVID-19, the largest number among all Pennsylvania state prisons. 

Kevin Hagen / AP

A man etched two SS bolts, a Nazi symbol, into pillars at the Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Plaza.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

 

On today's program: A preview of what to expect from the Supreme Court’s oral arguments this week; an epidemiologist explains what life might look like as Southwestern Pennsylvania prepares to reopen; nursing home workers bear the brunt of caring for coronavirus patients; and parents become teachers’ assistants as kids transition to online schooling. 

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