Hate groups helped storm the Capitol. These groups have been active in Pennsylvania.

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.

The Capitol riot exposed U.S. extremism on a broad scale. Pittsburgh is no stranger to white supremacist activity.

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.

Pittsburgh police officers during a protest in June 2020. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

As the country braces for unrest, here’s what you should know about staying safe in Pittsburgh

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.

(Photo via iStock)

Facial recognition use spiked after the Capitol riot. Privacy advocates are leery.

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.

Amanda Papa, 33, of Coraopolis, was arrested during a mental health crisis in 2018. “The whole thing could’ve just been stopped, and we [would] probably pay the therapist way less than these officers, these courts, all the staff, all the records — everything." (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Resolved to change: Can Allegheny County behavioral crisis teams move fast enough to answer calls for reform?

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.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (center) stands with two members of his Pittsburgh Community Task Force for Police Reform, Richard Garland (left) and Tim Stevens, at the unveiling on Oct. 19, 2020, of the panel's report, at the City-County Building, Downtown. (Photo by Rich Lord/PublicSource)

Policing task force calls for 16 reforms, more data on Pittsburgh law enforcement

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.