“The fact that people were on edge that this man might not be found guilty speaks volumes about the changes that need to be made to our criminal justice system." That's how Brandi Fisher, president and CEO of the Alliance for Police Accountability, described the guilty verdict of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in a rare rebuke for police violence Tuesday evening.
Editor’s note: This guide includes hate group symbols and related information that are disturbing and offensive. On Jan. 6, rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol to interfere with the presidential election won by Joe Biden. The attack on democracy was striking for countless reasons — chief among them the presence of white supremacist imagery, such as bigoted references to the Holocaust. Several members of hate groups participated in the riot, including the Proud Boys, a violent white supremacist group that has gained traction in the last few years.
When Jasiri X moved from the south side of Chicago to Monroeville as a teen in the 1980s, he discovered “in-your-face racism” for the first time. On his first trip to Monroeville Mall, someone called him a racial slur.
“People refer to Pittsburgh as the Mississippi of the North,” said Jasiri X, founder of the prominent social justice activist group 1Hood in Pittsburgh. “I would tell people that would come here that Pittsburgh is an overtly racist place. It’s not subtly racist. It’s not like, ‘We’re gonna hide it.’ It’s pretty overtly racist.”
Following the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan.
The country is on edge after a mob incited by the president overtook the U.S. Capitol last week, resulting in the death of five people and a sense that the security of American democracy is at risk.
The Washington Post reported that right-wing groups are planning additional armed marches leading up to the Jan. 20 inauguration, according to Alethea Group, which analyzes and combats disinformation online. The report by Alethea Group’ showed plans for activity in all 50 state capitals as well as some other cities, including Pittsburgh. In a Jan. 12 statement, the FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office said the agency is aware of reports of possible “protests in our area,” and that FBI agents interviewed a “Pittsburgh-based individual” cited in the report.
The Capitol riot marks another notable moment in the ongoing facial recognition debate.
The facial recognition app Clearview AI saw an increase in use the day after the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, the New York Times reported. As police departments throughout the United States are helping the FBI identify rioters, some are reportedly using facial recognition technology.
The use of facial recognition last year to investigate suspected crimes related to Black Lives Matter protests raised privacy and First Amendment concerns from activists, advocates and some lawmakers. Studies show the technology, which attempts to match an uploaded image of a person to other images in a photo database, is less accurate at identifying people of color and women. Facial recognition has also resulted in at least three Black men being wrongfully arrested.
A single Pittsburgh police officer has been the subject of 119 allegations of misconduct that have reached the city’s Office of Municipal Investigations since 2010. They stemmed from 56 separate incidents. And nearly one in three involved force or weapons.
Every year, Pittsburgh's Bureau of Police issues a report showing how many officers have been reprimanded, counseled, suspended and terminated, and for what types of violations. And the city's Office of Municipal Investigations [OMI] separately characterizes and tallies the accusations it probed in the prior year.
Someone you love is having a breakdown. They could hurt themselves. Who do you call? If 911 leaps to mind, you’ll likely get a visit in a few minutes — from police, whose training includes behavioral health but is focused more on addressing criminality. If you can remember 1-888-796-8226 (or 1-888-7-YOU-CAN), you’ll get a mental health professional from resolve Crisis Services, a 13-year-old unit of UPMC hired by Allegheny County to handle behavioral incidents.
Diona Brown was at Pittsburgh Municipal Court last month for another case when she learned she had two outstanding court fines for when she was at school, two decades ago. Both were for truancy, dating back to 1999 and 2000. She was 16 years old.
It was so long ago that Brown couldn’t even remember why she’d missed school. “Who knew once you grow up you have to take care of that stuff?” she said.
The outstanding amount totaled $404.50. For Brown, who’s been staying at home caring for her three children while they attend school virtually, the amount is insurmountable.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and his hand-picked task force released 16 recommendations for reforming policing on Monday, as the mayor pledged to consider them all and to start implementing data-related measures promptly. The report of Peduto’s Pittsburgh Community Task Force on Police Reform
comes nearly five months after the death of George Floyd, under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, set off a summer of protests and reignited concern with police use of force, especially against Black people. 10 big problems with policing, and approaches to addressing themThe mayor called the 47-page report “a baseline” for improving policing in the city. “We’re at a very historic moment in this country,” Peduto said at a press conference in the City-County Building. “And there has never been a time like this, since the late 1960s, in order to address systemic racism, and in all the different areas that we can see it, whether it’s through education, or access to healthcare, or housing, or whether it is in police brutality.”
The report’s recommendations:
Gather and analyze more data on routine policing actions, to better understand “disparate outcomes” in which race seems to be a factor in law enforcement.