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.

Governor Wants Answers On 4 Kids Separated From Families

Aug 12, 2019
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania's governor says at least four children from his state were recently separated from their parents by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and wrote Monday to demand the agency halt the practice until it has a plan to ensure the welfare of children.

Vehicle Search Prompted By Marijuana Smell Ruled Illegal

Aug 12, 2019
Kalim Bhatti / AP

An eastern Pennsylvania judge has ruled that state police troopers who said they smelled marijuana in a car weren't allowed to search it once they were shown a passenger's medical marijuana card.

A Lehigh County judge tossed out evidence cited in support of drug and firearms counts stemming from the Nov. 7 search in Allentown, The (Allentown) Morning Call reported .

Dave Klug / AP

Prosecutors and lawyers for the man charged with killing 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue last year have agreed to a 120-day extension in the case.

Sandusky To Be Resentenced Next Month In Molestation Case

Aug 8, 2019
Gene J. Puskar / AP

A state judge has ordered Jerry Sandusky be taken to a central Pennsylvania courtroom next month for resentencing on his 45-count child sexual abuse conviction, six months after an appeals court ruled mandatory minimums had been improperly applied.

Judge John Foradora filed an order Wednesday that scheduled the proceeding for Sept. 23.


It’s time for parents to have hard conversations with their kids about their internet behavior. That was the message from the Pittsburgh FBI Field Office Wednesday morning, when officials announced the results of a July initiative called Operation Independence Day. The nationwide operation netted 67 suspected child traffickers. 

Boy Scouts Of America Faces New Sex Abuse Allegations, PA Lawsuit Reveals

Aug 7, 2019
Mary Altaffer / AP

The Boy Scouts of America are facing new allegations of sexual abuse from about 800 men across the country, according to lawyers representing them. 

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania's top state prosecutor says investigations remain underway after 1,862 calls were made to his office's clergy abuse hotline in the 12 months since a landmark grand jury report exposed decades of child abuse within the state's Roman Catholic dioceses.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvanians who prefer not to be identified as male or female will soon have a gender-neutral option for their state-issued identification, including driver’s licenses. 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Ieesha Rajab tries to stay positive. Her conversation is peppered with laughter; she doesn't want to bring everyone around her down, and reminds friends and family to remember the good things. She recalls many details about her son Ciquann Dudley, Jr., but one thing eludes her.

“The only thing I can’t get is his voice, I just miss it. That laugh, I can’t hear it in my memories. I can’t hear it," she said, her voice soft, almost a whisper.

“That little boy, he’s a force. And that voice of his. He talked all the time, telling jokes. And he laughed, it’s like a cackle.”

Matt Rourke / AP

The Philadelphia Police Department says seven officers whose Facebook posts were flagged in an investigation into offensive and sometimes threatening social media activity have resigned.

Last month, the department suspended 13 officers with an intent to fire them after a nonprofit group published the results of a review of personal Facebook posts or comments from officers in Philadelphia and seven other police departments.

Courtesy of the Light of Life Rescue Mission

On today’s program: New leadership at Light of Life Rescue Mission wants to increase outreach efforts; why the Three Rivers Regatta was canceled; barring court intervention, Pennsylvania's general cash assistance program ends tonight; and a look back at small victories for Pittsburgh women and minorities 50 years ago.

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Older LGBT people are more likely to suffer from cognitive loss and dementia, according to a new study from the University of California San Francisco

RIchard Drew / AP

On today's program: A free dental clinic at PPG Paints Arena will serve more than 1,000 patients for free; how Sam DeMarco hopes to chart his course as Allegheny County GOP chair; get to know the first African-American woman to graduate from Pitt's engineering program; a peek into the future for autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh; and what immigrants and allies can do following reports of ICE activity in Pittsburgh.

Book 'Em

The Book ‘Em program will partner with this weekend’s Pittsburgh Wizard World convention downtown to collect hundreds of books to donate to Pennsylvania prisons. 

Jacqueline Larma / AP

Pennsylvania's top prisons official says six homicides allegedly committed by parolees over the past two months are horrendous and he's ordering a review of the parolees' supervision history.

Katie Meyer / 90.5 WESA

A lawsuit has been filed against Harrisburg’s Roman Catholic diocese for covering up alleged brutal sexual abuse of a boy more than 40 years ago.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Police Officer Calvin Hall was remembered by many as a difference-maker. 

Courtesy of Lawrenceville United

On today’s program: A Pittsburgh journalist tells the stories of families wounded by the opioid crisis; a Hazelwood support group helps families of kids with autism; Pittsburgh prepares to honor slain Officer Calvin Hall; how Youngstown tracks health issues close to fracking sites; and a Lawrenceville nonprofit teaches residents about their housing rights.

Review Urged After 3 Parolees Charged In Separate Homicides

Jul 22, 2019
Marc Levy / AP

Prosecutors and prison guards are urging a review of Pennsylvania's parole practices following the arrests of three parolees in unrelated homicides committed over the past two months.

One is a convicted murderer who got out of prison in March and is now charged with killing an 8-year-old boy two weeks ago.

Two other parolees released from prison in the last two years are facing charges in the beating death of a 2-year-old Baltimore boy and the strangulation of a 49-year-old Hershey, Pa., woman.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In front of the Zone One Police Station on Pittsburgh's North Side, a police car blocked the entrance. Its lights were on and a blue wreath hung from its front grill. It was the squad car once driven by Officer Calvin Hall, parked in observance of an End of Watch ceremony to commemorate Hall's death days before.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Police say a "person of interest" in the fatal shooting of an off-duty Pittsburgh police officer is in custody.


A group of Carnegie Mellon psychiatrists and psychologists is urging Pennsylvania leaders to close a controversial detention center for immigrant families, because they say it is damaging the physical and mental health of the children who are held there.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Philadelphia Police Department is suspending 13 officers with an intent to fire them following an investigation into offensive and sometimes threatening Facebook posts.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Housing is a main priority for Homewood residents. In a city short 17,000 affordable units, neighborhood activists are acutely aware of the need for low-income housing options. But in many new buildings that accept federal subsidies, formerly incarcerated individuals are barred from renting. 

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner says the death penalty violates Pennsylvania’s constitution and he’s calling for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to outlaw it.

Krasner filed a motion arguing the state has used the death penalty arbitrarily — thus violating protections against cruel punishments.

He says ineffective counsel for poor defendants has led to bad decisions that were later overturned, especially in Philadelphia. His office reviewed cases from 1978 through 2017.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh police confirm an off-duty officer critically wounded in a street shooting over the weekend has died of his injuries.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A periwinkle frog with geometric markings crouches in a sea of red, its toes splayed out as it prepares to leap. The painting now hangs in Dwayne Drummond’s Homewood apartment. But he remembers when he found it in somebody else’s trash.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A house stands quietly on Homewood’s Monticello Street. All the windows are boarded up. Shingles pop off the eaves. And if you look closely, you can see graffiti beneath a fading layer of white paint. The graffitti is blue, the signature color of the Crips gang.

Tim Ogawa / CISV International

A summer camp that promotes international cooperation convened in Pittsburgh for the first time this year. The Seminar camp was founded after World War II, and this session focused on conflict resolution.

Pittsburgh Public Schools Photographs / Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center

Homewood was founded by Pittsburgh’s wealthiest families, but it eventually became one of the city’s poorest and most racially segregated neighborhoods.