Like many other cities in the United States, my city is divided. There are two sides to this divide. There are those who are outraged and then there are those who are outraged that people are outraged. In my heart, I know there’s no way to justify the latter. Pittsburgh has a right to be outraged! In what’s dubbed as one of the most liveable cities in the United States, Pittsburgh is currently under a microscope after the death of Antwon Rose Jr. The 17-year-old was shot and killed by an officer who was sworn in hours before the incident at hand. Officer Michael Rosfeld heard the call concerning a nearby drive-by shooting and pulled over Rose, the passenger in a jitney. One of the occupants of the vehicle was arrested, one fled, and the other being Antwon Rose Jr, was shot three times in the back while running away. Apparently, Rose Jr was a threat to Mr. Rosfeld. I question if a neighbor had not taped this incident would we be here today demanding accountability?
Allegedly the vehicle they were in matched the description from the shooting in the nearby neighborhood. We know very little about the drive-by but the evidence against Mr. Rosfeld is damning. Although the case is talked about every day on the news, I can’t bring it up at work anymore. After one too many “why did he run” defenses, I’m exhausted! Rather he was innocent or guilty, running didn’t give Mr. Rosfeld the right to be this young man’s judge, jury, and executioner.
“It’s not about race! Listen, I tell my kids to listen to the police.” — My coworker
I’m an optimist but not even I can keep on my rose-colored glasses when it comes to police-community relations in black communities. Karen* your “police talk” with your kid is much different than the ones black parents give their children every day. The instruction manual on how to correctly interact with a police officer is now like walking through a minefield. There are some excellent officers in the community that make it their job to get to know the community as they don’t want to divide it. The Michael Rosfeld’s of the world are giving the good officers a bad reputation. Even in a time of crisis, I’m reluctant to call the police because it isn’t uncommon for a police call for something like a disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace to turn deadly. We’ve seen time and time again where something so small became a big thing because an officer escalated the situation. For example, you have the Tamir Rice’s and the Eric Garner’s. According to The Root 1,129 people were killed by police last year. “More people died from police violence than the total numbers of US soldiers killed in action around the globe.” This is why black parents are terrified because statistics show that you are most likely to be killed by a police officer while being black. Black kids have better odds of surviving a war than they do on their own streets (sorry not sorry – not taking that sentence back Karen).
“What about the fact that he ran. Innocent people don’t run.”
We’ll never know his side of the story because dead people can’t get their due process. We could go back and forth with the whataboutism like what about actual armed terrorists like the man who shot up a church being able to have his day in court? Yet when the suspect is black, “I feared for my life,” comes into play. Every day cops go to work fearing for their lives as it’s a risk in the job description. Firefighters don’t say, “uhhh nope I’m not going to go into any more burning houses because it might kill me. I’m cool” because said risk is in the job description.
“There’s a better way to express hurt than protesting.”
History shows protesting has been effective. Outraged citizens aren’t only protesting though. They’re registering to vote, aligning themselves with businesses that share their values, and coming together as a community in the realization that enough is enough. I don’t have to have children to be concerned. I have brothers, nephews, friends, and I fear that one day while reaching for their registration a cop may “fear for his life.” Sure, the protests stop traffic and force people to see and hear them but after waiting for hours in your car Karen, you get to go home while someone’s child didn’t get that privilege.
The people that are inconvenienced by the protests are probably the same people who would have thought Martin Luther King Jr was a nuisance who needed to be silenced. If you’re not outraged, you are a part of the problem.
*Note: Names have been changed to save anyone from potential embarrassment. To be a blog about Pittsburgh and how great it is, I would be doing myself and readers a disservice by not writing about it especially (but not only) since it occurred it my backyard.