Press Releases

Statement of the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) and the Greater Pittsburgh Coalition Against Violence (CAV) on the tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday October 27, 2018

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Re: Shooting of Antwon Rose, Jr. by an East Pittsburgh Police officer

 

Dear Attorney, General Shapiro; Allegheny County District Attorney Zappala, Jr. and Allegheny County Police Department Supt. McDonough:

 I was heart broken and quite disturbed, as I’m sure were many area television viewers, after watching the video of the shooting of 17 year old  Woodland Hills honor student Antwon Rose by an East Pittsburgh Police officer during a traffic stop in which young Mr. Rose was not the driver of the vehicle that was stopped. I, and the members of the B-PEP Planning Council and the Greater Pittsburgh Coalition Against Violence, are outraged at the lethal shooting of yet another unarmed Black man by a law enforcement officer who is sworn to “Protect and Serve”.

There was, from what we know from the video, absolutely NO threat to any of the officers pursuing Mr. Rose and one of the other occupants of the car. The officers were certainly not in danger of losing their lives, or of being injured.    Fleeing from an officer should not be justification for any officer to discharge his weapon let alone take a life.  Our understanding is the Antwon Rose, Jr. was struck three times by the officer in question, who was sworn into service only hours before.   How is such an action justified?  Why did this officer feel the need, or the right to take such action?  This seems to be a clear case of an absence of sufficient training and a serious lack of judgement.

We are aware of the difficulty a local District Attorney has in investigating and prosecuting a law enforcement officer when he or she must depend on local police officers, on a regular basis, to prosecute offenders.  Therefore, the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) has worked on, and advocated for, what we call the “Due Process Act” which would put all police involved deadly shootings in the hands of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, which we feel would bring about a more objective pursuit of justice.  We strongly believe that the deadly shooting of Antwon Rose, Jr. presents such a case, and we request your offices to collectively agree to pass this case onto the Attorney General’s Office of Pennsylvania.  The Family of Antwon Rose, Jr. and the community deserve no less than an open and totally transparent process for justice. Too many lives are being cut short or impacted, in some cases permanently, by the quick and inappropriate actions of police which frequently occur without the forethought of the lifelong consequences they bring about. There have been far too many shootings and killings of unarmed citizens, most often young Black males throughout Western Pennsylvania and throughout the nation.  The community demands justice now and will settle for nothing less.  We cannot see how the death of Antwon Rose can be justified.

B-PEP and the Greater Pittsburgh Coalition Against Violence has also been a supporter, for some time, for the creation of a county-wide Citizen Police Review Board.  We join with those who are actively advocating for this cause that we feel would bring about another level of objectivity and review of the actions of officers in the various police departments throughout Allegheny County 

In recent years with the leadership from Mayor Bill Peduto, that of our immediate past Police Chief Cameron McClay, that of our current Police Chief Scott Shubert and their leadership teams have partnered together with the community to begin to create a new relationship between the community and the police.  Negative incidents between the community and the police have lessened.  There is much more work to be done, but we strongly advocate that surrounding police departments emulate such a partnership. Area police departments can begin that relationship by implementing enhanced training of their police force, including the “implicit bias training” that the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has provided to every member of their department.  Meanwhile we advocate for our Pittsburgh Police Bureau to continue to expand its training opportunities and to expand the diversity within its department.

The reason why what is known as the “Black Lives Matter” movement came about is not because White lives don’t matter. It came about because far too many people, including far too many police officers across this nation, don’t believe that Black lives DO matter!!  Many of us can’t help but wonder if the White officer who shot three bullets into the unarmed Antwon Rose would have done so if Antwon were a White 17-year-old youth, instead of being yet another Black 17-year-old youth running from the police!

Whatever organization in the end conducts the investigation of the death of Antwon Rose, Jr. that investigation must be comprehensive, transparent, complete, and with an eye toward justice!

In this time of political and societal hurricanes the Black Political Empowerment Project and the Greater Pittsburgh Coalition Against Violence stand together united to change the tide of hate and division which is destroying our communities and destroying our nation!

Sincerely,

Tim Stevens, Chairman & CEO

The Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP)

 REDISTRICTING TOWN HALL SCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY, MAY 24TH AT THE PITTSBURGH THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

Common Cause of Pennsylvania is joining with Fair Districts PA, the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, the NAACP Pittsburgh Unit, and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh are sponsoring a very important presentation on the ever expanding movement on the quest for ‘fair districts’ and the elimination of gerrymandering in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.   Common Cause is helping to bring into Pittsburgh three state of California Commissioners, Cynthia Dai, Peter Yao and Stan Forbes to share with local Fair Districts PA enthusiasts how the state of California has begun to guarantee districts that are more free of gerrymandering than in the past, and are more fair in the lines that are drawn to create new districts going forward.

“The Redistricting Town Hall” will take place on THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2018 at 6:30 pm, with doors opening at 6pm, in the John Knox Room of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary located at 616 N. Highland Avenue (15206) in East Liberty across from Obama Academy and close to Home Depot.  The focus of the conversation will be sharing the successful story of the California Redistricting Commission, and addressing the question of “How Do We Make it Happen in Pennsylvania”.   Pittsburgh Steeler Hall of Famer Franco Harris will be the special guest host for the evening. He helped host such an event back in 2016, and has maintained an interest in this important issue.

For information contact Micah Sims, the Executive Director of Common Cause of Pennsylvania at 412-520-5115/717-232-9951, Kitsy McNulty, Coordinator, Fair Districts PA- Pittsburgh at 412-370-5857, or Tim Stevens, Chairman & CEO, the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) at 412-758-7898.

COMMUNITY FORUM ON GERRYMANDERING & REDISTRICTING

SPECIAL POWERPOINT PRESENTATION ON BLACK POLITICAL EMPOWERMENT PROJECT INITIATIVES

By the special request of the Larimer Consensus Group, on Thursday, May 3, 2018 the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) is partnering with the Kingsley Association, Fair Districts PA and the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh to bring back a presentation on the issues surrounding the recent movement which is gaining momentum across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with regard to the goal and political and moral necessity of eliminating gerrymandering and creating truly ‘fair’ legislative districts.  Read more here. 

 

Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) Chairman, Tim Stevens’s Comments on the Leon Ford Settlement

Wednesday, January 17,2018

On October 12, 2017 the Black Political Empowerment Project wrote  Mayor Peduto, Chief Shubert, and Public Safety Director Hissich urging them to amend the earlier proposed settlement to Leon Ford so as to make it more likely to resolve the Leon Ford situation, and thus provide closure. We stated that we felt it was in the interest of all parties to do so. I am elated to learn that, according to reports, ALL the parties have agreed to a settlement. Read more here.


Political Hurricanes

In this time of a ‘POLITICAL HURRICANE’ is it vitally important that we all keep our heads and remained focused on empowering our communities. Read more here.


B-PEP's Position on DACA

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Hon. Stephen A. Zappala, Jr.  - Unnecessary Deaths of both Bruce Tyrone Kelley, Jr. and Canine Officer Aren

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