‘A profound wound to the community’: Pittsburgh’s black leaders react to the Rosfeld verdict | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

‘A profound wound to the community’: Pittsburgh’s black leaders react to the Rosfeld verdict

926493_web1_PTR-VerdictProtest34-032319
Nate Smallwood | Tribue-Review
Roses are laid on a sidewalk in Oakland following the acquittal of former East Pittsburgh Police officer Michael Rosfeld, Saturday, March 23, 2019. Rosfeld was charged with homicide in the fatal shooting of Antwon Rose II, who was unarmed, as he fled a felony traffic stop.
926493_web1_PTR-VerdictProtest23-032319
Nate Smallwood | Tribue-Review
Khalil Darden, of Penn Hills, leads chants as demonstrators march down Fifth Avenue in Oakland following the acquittal of former East Pittsburgh Police officer Michael Rosfeld, Saturday, March 23, 2019. Rosfeld was charged with homicide in the fatal shooting of Antwon Rose II, who was unarmed, as he fled a felony traffic stop.
926493_web1_PTR-VerdictProtest24-032319
Nate Smallwood | Tribue-Review
Protesters demonstrate in Oakland following the acquittal of former East Pittsburgh Police officer Michael Rosfeld, Saturday, March 23, 2019. Rosfeld was charged with homicide in the fatal shooting of Antwon Rose II, who was unarmed, as he fled a felony traffic stop.

Pittsburgh’s African-American community Saturday expressed a mixture of grief, disbelief and anger over the acquittal of Michael Rosfeld, the former East Pittsburgh police officer charged for shooting and killing an unarmed black teenager.

Leaders from the community spoke about race, the toxic perceptions of black men and a justice system that enjoys deference but all too frequently fails the African-American community on its core promise of the presumption of innocence.

Mostly, they spoke about political apathy and taking their hurt to the ballot box.

“This is a profound wound to the community,” Tim Stevens, chairman of Black Political Empowerment Project, or B-PEP, told the Tribune-Review.

Stevens said he was deeply concerned with how the community will internalize the verdict and perceive its self-worth. He felt they were left empty handed.

“I think if Rosfeld had been convicted of anything — at least something — it would have been viewed, to some degree, as a victory,” he said. “But to get nothing?”

Kevin Mosley, a retired state trooper, attended two days of the trial and joined the solidarity rally-­turned-march Saturday. Having trained officers in use-of-force, Mosley said he was troubled by Rosfeld’s failure to follow police training, and the jury’s deference to the badge and disregard for the eyewitness.

Many in the black community, he said, believe the out-of-town jurors just wanted to go home.

“How do you take a week’s worth of testimony and it takes you less than four hours to go through each count and find him not guilty?” Mosley asked. “That’s just wrong.”

Kimberly Ellis, a scholar of American and Africana Studies who has taught at Carnegie Mellon University, agreed.

While it is impossible to know what the jury debated before arriving at their decision, Ellis and others in the community questioned how an unarmed teen running away from police is a threat. Rosfeld, who testified in his own defense during the trial, said he felt threatened by Rose as he fled.

“I understand the hurt and pain. I just don’t want us to move into an apathetic mode and think there’s nothing we can do about it,” Ellis said. “We should not just mourn and cry and march and hope it gets better.”

The path forward for the African-American community, Ellis and Mosley said, is to vote.

“I believe that we should turn our pain into political power and start firing people,” Ellis said. “At the end of the day, somebody has to pay.”

Nicole C. Brambila is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Nicole at 724-226-7704, [email protected] or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.