The deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police has led to protests across the country, including in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and sparked a national conversation about the use of force by police. The protests began after grand juries in two cities declined to charge police officers with causing the deaths of Michael Brown, shot to death Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo., by officer Darren Wilson; and Eric Garner, who died July 17 in Staten Island after officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold.
The Department of Justice has launched investigations of both cases.
The questions raised by those incidents are not new.
Earlier this year, PublicSource and Pittsburgh City Paper created a timeline of local incidents involving allegations of inappropriate force and other misconduct by officers of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police against citizens. The incidents were not lethal, and some lack the racial component of the Ferguson and Staten Island cases, but the questions they raise about police accountability are the same.
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James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” PublicSource exists to help the Pittsburgh region face its realities and create opportunities for change. When we shine a light on inequity in our region, like the “completely unacceptable” conditions in low-income housing in McKeesport, things change. When we ask questions about policymakers’ decisions, like how Allegheny County is handling COVID-19 safety for its employees, things change. When we push for transparency on issues that affect the public, like in the use of facial recognition software by Pittsburgh police, things change.
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