Protesters gathered in the streets of Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning to continue to demand justice for a 17-year-old unarmed black teenager who was shot to death by police.
An East Pittsburgh police officer shot Antwon Rose, who would have been a high school senior, three times in his back on the night of June 19 as he was allegedly fleeing a traffic stop in a town near Pittsburgh. The vehicle had been pulled over in connection to an earlier shooting, authorities claim.
“Three shots in the back! How do you justify that?” protesters shouted in unison. “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now! If we don’t get it? Shut it down.”
Protesters carried signs that read: “A badge is not a license to kill” and “prosecute killer cops.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette estimated that nearly 100 people attended the march and demonstrations, which featured speeches by politicians and elected city officials.
State Rep. Ed Gainey (D) gave a particularly rousing speech that called for justice and improved community relations with the city’s police force, beginning with trust.
“We know that we have great cops out here, but for the ones that are shooting innocent, unarmed men in the back, they should be charged. Because at the end of the day, it’s more important that we build a community that believes in one another based on who we are and the content of who we are, not on the color, gender, anything,” he said to cheers.
“They need diversity education inside the police department,” he added. “And here’s why: You can’t respect who you don’t know.”
Officer Michael Rosfeld, 30, who was sworn in just hours before shooting Rose, was placed on administrative leave following the shooting. The county district attorney is continuing to investigate the case. No charges have been filed.
The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office on Monday said that it will not publicly address the investigation until “after the grieving process and funeral.” Plans to address the case on Tuesday were not immediately shared.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D) told reporters on Monday that he believes Rosfeld should stand trial before a jury, just like any fatal shooting of an unarmed person “no matter what the situation was,” the Tribune-Review reported.
The protesters’ march on Tuesday follows a number of earlier demonstrations since Rose’s death. It also came a day after the teenager’s funeral was held in a school auditorium.
The service included a poem, titled “I Am Not What You Think!” that had been written by Rose two years before his death. It addressed concerns and fear he had about what the future held for him.
“I see mothers bury their sons,” he wrote. “I want my mom to never feel that pain. I understand people believe I’m just a statistic. I say to them I’m different.”