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.

Niven Sabherwal / 90.5 WESA

Local LGBTQ advocacy organizations have mixed reactions to the news that the Delta Foundation has turned over an internal review to the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office and made leadership changes. Delta puts on the annual Pride parade and festival, which was cancelled this year due to COVID-19.  

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Members of Black, Young, and Educated said on Monday that the recent arrest of a Black Lives Matter protester was part of an effort by Pittsburgh police to silence demonstrators. And they said the tactics officers used to make the Saturday arrest belie statements by city officials that safety is their top priority in monitoring protests.

Marylee Williams / 90.5 WESA

Activists and elected officials say they want answers about the arrest of a protester Saturday during a peaceful and regularly scheduled Black Lives Matter demonstration. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The death of George Floyd in Minnesota this past May sparked conversations about racial justice around the county. Some of the dialog has centered around systemic racism in institutions like housing.

Judge Faces Ethics Charges Over Racist, Demeaning Comments

Aug 12, 2020
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh judge who allegedly referred to a Black juror as “Aunt Jemima” was accused of misconduct in office Wednesday by the state's entity that investigates and prosecutes judicial wrongdoing.

Tom Gralish / Philadelphia Inquirer

What began as a simple request for information about liquor licenses in Pennsylvania has turned into a protracted court battle pitting the public’s right to government records against the state-run liquor board’s ability to make money.

Matt Rourke / AP

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a former police officer acquitted in the shooting death of a Black teenager who was seeking reinstatement to another position as a university police officer.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The coronavirus pandemic and the job losses that came with it have had a significant impact on LGBTQ people. For a community that already faces barriers to housing and employment, the shutdown has exacerbated systemic problems, especially for transgender and non-binary people of color. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Pittsburgh Pride has been canceled. The Delta Foundation, the non-profit that organizes the event, said the coronavirus pandemic led to the “hiatus” and that the annual parade and festival will be postponed until 2021.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

It has been just over a month since Dannielle Brown started her hunger strike on Freedom Corner to get answers from Duquesne University on her son's death. And while the University said in July that it would provide her the records she seeks, Brown is still waiting. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

“A matter of life and death.” That was the message demonstrators conveyed Friday afternoon during a march and rally through downtown for non-discrimination protections of LGBTQ people.

Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania is one of three states featured in a new report that details how probation and parole have swelled U.S. prison populations by “often [setting] people up to fail.” 

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

In the last week, Pittsburgh police have charged several leaders of local ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests. Those charged include Christian Carter, Nique Craft and Dena Stanley.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Voters in the city of Pittsburgh will get to decide in November whether to give the Citizen Police Review Board more power. After a series of amendments, CPRB Executive Director Beth Pittinger says this referendum, if passed, could give the board more power.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The "Black Lives Matter" protests that have shut down Pittsburgh city streets every week for the past two months are led by a new generation of activists. Two organizers of the "Civil Saturday" demonstrations, Nick Anglin and Treasure Palmer, say their path to protesting started with feeling alienated as young Black people in the Pittsburgh area.

Central PA Teen Hopes To Be Among The First New DACA Recipients

Jul 23, 2020
Courtesy Arlette Morales

An undocumented Pennsylvania teenager may be one of the first people to find out if the federal government is admitting new recipients into a program that protects some young people from deportation.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA


On today's program: Pittsburgher and longtime activist Sala Udin remembers Congressman John Lewis; advocates say holding businesses accountable for ADA compliance often falls to people with disabilities, not the city; and how Montgomery County is using contact tracers to get the coronavirus under control. 


Transgender Official Takes Abuse While Leading Virus Efforts

Jul 21, 2020
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Many of the attacks against Pennsylvania’s health secretary have little to do with the way she has handled the statewide response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kiley Koscinski / 90.5 WESA

Local unions representing bus drivers, hospital food service workers, care providers and janitors marched down Forbes Avenue in Oakland Monday morning. The demonstration was part of a national #BlackWorkersMatter movement which seeks to draw attention to income inequality and systemic racism within labor.


A small group of white supremacists staged a brief demonstration in a central Pennsylvania park over the weekend but disbanded as police arrived in force to break up the event, which was conducted without a permit.

More than a dozen members of the National Socialist Movement, some of them armed, marched through Williamsport's Brandon Park on Saturday afternoon. The group, which carried flags that were a combination of a swastika and American flag, then spoke with the aid of a bullhorn.

Google Maps

Like legal aid offices across the country, western Pennsylvania’s Neighborhood Legal Services suffers from a chronic lack of resources. 

Michael Rubinkam / AP

A Pennsylvania police officer was justified when he pressed his knee into an intoxicated man’s head while restraining him outside a hospital, a prosecutor said Friday after reviewing an incident that was caught on video and generated allegations of police brutality.

Philadelphia Protesters Sue City Over Tear Gas, Use Of Force

Jul 14, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

Three civil rights lawsuits filed in Philadelphia on Tuesday accuse the city of using military-level force that injured protesters and bystanders alike during peaceful protests against racial inequality and police brutality.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

More than six weeks after George Floyd was killed under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, protests in Pittsburgh continued to call for sweeping changes to the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and an end to systemic racism.

Protest In Allentown, Pa. After Cop Uses Knee To Restrain Man

Jul 13, 2020

Activists on Monday pressed their demand for police accountability after video emerged over the weekend of an officer placing his knee on a man’s head and neck area outside a Pennsylvania hospital.

Screen grab via @BLMlehighvalley on Twitter

Video posted on social media that shows a Pennsylvania police officer with his knee on a man's neck while trying to restrain him has prompted protests and a demand from the local Black Lives Matter group to suspend the officers involved.

The video shot Saturday night from a passerby's vehicle shows Allentown officers restraining a man on the ground outside the emergency room of the Sacred Heart Campus of St. Luke's Hospital. An officer has his elbow on the man's neck before switching to a knee to hold him down while other officers restrained his arms.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

For the sixth week, Pittsburghers marched through the city for Civil Saturdays to protest police brutality.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Dannielle Brown wants answers. 

Marc Levy / AP

Marsha Scaggs admits she was part of a drug deal that turned deadly more than 30 years ago in Lawrence County, Pa.