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Elected Official's Opinion Letter

 

We, the undersigned Elected Officials, represent both the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, residents.  We have come together to address the historical inequalities in traditionally impoverished neighborhoods.  We strive to create transformational policies and increase resources to support citizens' growth and empowerment. Signers include PA State Representatives Jake Wheatley, Ed Gainey, Austin Davis, and Summer Lee, as well as Pittsburgh City Councilmen Rev. Ricky Burgess, Daniel Lavelle, and lastly, County Councilwoman Olivia Bennett. 

We support the decision to re-assign Judge Mark Tranquilli, concerning his alleged racially derogatory comments. However, we request further that he be fully removed from the bench; and ineligible for rotation for future vacant magistrate seats.

On February 5, 2020, it was reported by CBS News;  "In a closed-door meeting with a defense attorney and an assistant district attorney, Tranquilli is quoted as calling a black woman juror “Aunt Jemima” and muses about her having a drug-dealing “baby daddy” at home.

"In the same news report, it was further stated, "According to the complaint, Dutkowski later spoke with Defense Attorney Joe Otte, who was also disturbed by the comments and told Dutkowski he was considering some action on his part and said he would be careful about bringing African-American defendants before Tranquilli."

Sadly, anecdotal incidents like Judge Tranquilli's, reinforce African American's communal reluctance to "trust" the judicial system and is a clear example of systemic racism. We often suspect that the system/judges/prosecutors/attorneys are "against" us due to our ethnicity. Tranquilli's words and Defense Attorney Joe Otte's response is a confirmation that our collective suspicions are correct.

Coupled with our above-requested sanctions against Judge Tranquilli, we seek thoughtful next steps in addressing the systemic racism apparent in the judicial system in Allegheny County and is supported by the below signers. 

Respectfully submitted,

PA State Representatives Jake Wheatley, Ed Gainey, Austin Davis, and Summer Lee
Pittsburgh City Councilmen Rev. Ricky Burgess, Daniel Lavelle

County Councilwoman Olivia Bennett

 


Pittsburgh Black Elected Officials response to PA House Candidate Heather Kass

 

The PBEOC is a collective of Black Elected Officials who represent both the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County residents, who have come together to address the historical inequalities in traditionally impoverished neighborhoods.  The Coalition strives to create transformational policies and increase resources to support citizens' growth and empowerment. Members include PA State Representatives Jake Wheatley, Ed Gainey, and Summer Lee, as well as Pittsburgh City Councilmen Rev. Ricky Burgess, Daniel Lavelle, and lastly, County Councilpersons DeWitt Walton and Olivia Bennett. 
 
Specifically, we are writing as it concerns the reported negative social media posts of Heather Kass, PA Democratic House Candidate.  The January 20, 2020 edition of the Pittsburgh Current, summarized Kass' posts as “...the posts’ contents are comments that appear to be pro-Donald Trump, unsympathetic and angry toward those on public assistance, pro-gun and unsympathetic toward opioid addicts." 
 
Her words express an ideology that is NOT representative of the Democratic Party.  We should spare no effort to part ways with anyone whose words lack compassion and empathy in this manner.
 
As a result of the dogma conveyed by Candidate Kass' posts, we are calling upon her to withdraw her candidacy, and for the Allegheny County Democratic Committee to not support her.
 
 
Respectfully submitted,
 
 
Members of the PBEOC
 

 

PBEOC Members:  PA State Reps. Jake Wheatley, Ed Gainey and Summer Lee; Pittsburgh City Councilmen Rev. Ricky Burgess and Daniel Lavelle; and Allegheny County Councilpersons DeWitt Walton and Olivia Bennett
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