Juneteenth celebration makes way through Downtown; joined with Antwon Rose protesters
Pittsburgh's annual Juneteenth march became a de facto protest Saturday morning as outrage continued regarding the Tuesday police shooting of unarmed black teenager Antwon Rose.
The parade and music festival, scheduled long before an East Pittsburgh police officer shot and killed the 17-year-old Woodland Hills honor graduate as he ran from police during a traffic stop, celebrates the June 19, 1865, freedom declaration by Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger.
More than 200 people showed up in the intermittent rain for the march, which remained peaceful and stuck to the predetermined parade route, which was blocked off to traffic and included a police presence.
Marchers chanted Rose's name and age as they marched from Freedom Corner in the city's Hill District to Point State Park, where the celebration's music festival took place.
"Three shots in the back? How you justify that?" "Murder on Juneteenth, how you justify that?" "Three hours on the job? How you justify that?"
"Three hours on the job, how you justify that? Murder on Juneteenth, how you justify that?" pic.twitter.com/aL22yKIwb8— Megan Guza (@meganguzaTrib) June 23, 2018
Rose was shot and killed by Officer Michael Rosfeld, who was sworn in my borough council less than two hours earlier.
They also called on the public to vote District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. out of office. That has become a sticking point for protesters, who have said Zappala has declined to prosecute police officers in the past when they believe he should have.
The parade was led by Jennifer Pinckney, one of the survivors of the 2015 mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., perpetrated by Dylann Roof. Her husband, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was killed in the shooting.
Robert Brown, 18 and a recent graduate of the city's Barack Obama Academy, left his North Side home to come to rainy march.
"I want my voice to be heard for the younger generation," said Brown, who plans to attend California University of Pennsylvania on a full scholarship for pre-med. "There needs to be a change. I want police officers to know that black men are suffering from police brutality."
Robert Brown, of Pittsburgh's Manchester, graduated from Obama Academy a few days ago. He's out in the Hill today for Juneteenth because he wants his voice to he heard. "There needs to be a change." He's headed to @CalUofPA with a full ride scholarship for pre-med. pic.twitter.com/z3oeebZFSx— Megan Guza (@meganguzaTrib) June 23, 2018
The Juneteenth celebration came after three nights of protests sparked by Rose's death. Four protesters were arrested Friday night, and one woman was arrested early Friday after she refused to disperse with the rest of the crowd from the Parkway East.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer.