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Following the horrific mass shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and at Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo, NY, Governor Tom Wolf today called for immediate action from the General Assembly and Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation to pass common sense legislation to prevent gun violence.
“I am horrified by these tragedies and I am angry that our lawmakers continue to fail to address gun violence,” Gov. Wolf said. “I strongly urge our General Assembly and Congress to enact common sense legislation that will help stem the tide of gun violence.
“How many more children must die before we actually take meaningful action? How many more mass shootings must we witness before we wake up to the reality that gun violence is a public health crisis that must be addressed? People should feel safe going to school, the supermarket, their place of worship, the mall, the movies, and even outside in their community. Yet, these tragedies keep happening.
“Pennsylvania knows Texas’ pain. Too many states and communities know this pain as well. We lost five children in the 2006 mass shooting at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Lancaster County. The 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh gave us the terrible distinction of being home to the deadliest antisemitic attack in the country. And we see gun violence regularly in our communities.
“I’m tired of the lack of action. I have made addressing gun violence a priority throughout my administration. I wish I could say the same of our Republican-led legislature, which seems more focused on pushing dangerous bills that would loosen restrictions and put Pennsylvanians at risk. I urge Pennsylvanians to join me in calling for our lawmakers at the state and federal levels to take meaningful steps to end gun violence.”
Governor Wolf has worked to address gun violence in Pennsylvania throughout his terms:
In 2019, he signed an executive order making sweeping changes to gun violence in Pennsylvania including the creation of a Special Council on Gun Violence.
He has invested more than $50 million in grassroots, community gun violence prevention programs around the commonwealth.
He has included an additional $35 million in grants and technical assistance to support community-led gun violence prevention efforts in his 2022-23 budget proposal.
He has included an additional $36 million in the 2022-23 budget proposal toward behavioral health services, restoring two-thirds of the cuts enacted during the previous administration, and he is open to including additional funding.
In October 2021, he signed a Memorandum of Understanding with New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut to share crime gun data in an effort to prevent gun violence and enhance public safety.
In December 2021, he vetoed Senate Bill 565, dangerous legislation that would have removed licensing and background check requirements for concealed carry permits and overturned Philadelphia’s requirement for a permit to open carry.
In January 2022, he vetoed House Bill 979, which would discourage local jurisdictions from attempting to regulate firearms.
For years, Governor Wolf has called for the following basic gun laws to be legislated:
Require reporting for lost and stolen guns within 72 hours.
Close loopholes and require background checks on all gun sales.
Require safe storage of firearms to keep guns out of the wrong hands to prevent accidental injury/death and suicides.
Create red flag laws to protect those who may be a danger to themselves or others.
May 16, 2022
Our hearts are with the people of Buffalo, and particularly with the families and friends of the 10 people killed and those who were injured in yet another hate-driven act of violence. News reporting indicates clear racist motivation behind the attack, ideology we condemn in the strongest possible terms. We join with those across the U.S. who are struggling, saddened and angry at such violent actions fueled by hate.
In Pittsburgh, memories are still fresh from the Tree of Life shooting in 2018, a hate crime that shattered a community that then rallied under the call of Pittsburgh Strong. As we pray for those left to move on from this horrific act, we also know Buffalo will emerge stronger.
Our collective strength must be used to address, with even more vigor, the hatred and bigotry that fuel terrible acts like the one that occurred this Saturday. At Duquesne, we are committed to an inclusive community that values everyone and to the deep reflection, learning and healing required not just to prevent violence but to continue to pursue equitable ways to create opportunity for everyone.
For those on our campus and throughout our community, please know that resources are here for you, should you need them, through our Center for Health and Wellness, through the Center for Excellence in Diversity and Student Inclusion, and other offices. Even if you already have left for the summer, please know you may reach out for such services.
The Spiritans are planning a Mass of the victims of the tragic violence in Buffalo. As details emerge, these will be shared.
Our work to serve God by serving students, so that they may in turn serve others, is most important at times like this, when we can help illuminate the importance of acceptance, kindness, and peace.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally-celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
Fact #1: Following the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, not all enslaved people immediately found freedom.
The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in states then in rebellion against the United States. Union troops operating in said states gave teeth to the Proclamation. This, however, did not apply to the border states.
Mayor Ed Gainey announces investments and initiatives to address the city’s pressing infrastructure needs. As part of the city’s commitment, Mayor Gainey announced the creation of a comprehensive Bridge Asset Management Program, an update on the Swindell Bridge, and his plan to address equitable regional infrastructure investment. The announcements were made in advance of National Infrastructure Week, May 16th – May 20th, 2022.
“Our city’s infrastructure connects working families to jobs, education, opportunities and a future,” said Mayor Gainey. “Making much-needed investments into our city’s infrastructure ensures that we are strengthening our communities, creating good-paying jobs, and making our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just. I look forward to working with our regional partners to ensure that we continue to secure our future economic growth, global competitiveness, and prosperity.”
To establish the creation of the comprehensive Bridge Asset Management Program, the city released an RFP that includes the hiring of a bridge asset manager. The bridge asset manager will lead an office dedicated to ensuring the safety and integrity of all bridges. Additional responsibilities of the manager will include developing a list of immediate/near-term bridge repairs, creating an asset management plan for each individual bridge and submitting recommendations for successful implementation of the asset management plan including the creation of a new Bridge Maintenance Division. The bridge asset manager will report to the city’s chief operating and administrative officer and will provide a report to the Mayor on the current conditions and safety of all city-owned bridges by October 2022.
Mayor Gainey also provided an update on the Swindell Bridge. In partnership with PENNDOT, DOMI will inspect the Swindell Bridge every six months, and a new inspection will take place this month. For now, inspections and analysis indicate that the current restrictions on the bridge are working to keep the weight of vehicles where it should be. Upon notice from an inspector that the bridge is unsafe, the city will close the bridge immediately. Short-term repairs continue to be made to manage water issues that have caused damage.
In an effort to establish and maintain cooperation and partnership across the region, Mayor Gainey will also convene a roundtable of mayors to meet with the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission. The purpose of the roundtable will be to connect regional leaders with the technical support and expertise needed to gain funding for critical infrastructure projects.
Source: City of Pittsburgh
Today, more than 80 percent of the U.S. population—and 50 percent of people worldwide—live in and around urban centers.
The Graduate Certificate in Urban Ministry is a flexible program allowing community members and seminarians to explore their Christian vocation in urban settings. This program allows students from all denominations to think about how to apply their faith to where they work, live, and play.
May 3, 2022
Governor Tom Wolf today issued the following statement on the potential dismantling of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision to protect access to abortion: “A decision by the Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade will not have an immediate impact on Pennsylvania or its current laws. Should this opinion become final, abortion access in Pennsylvania will remain legal and safe as long as I am governor. I will continue to veto any legislation that threatens access to abortion and women’s health care. “Any decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is an assault on the right to access safe, legal abortion services. Let’s be clear: the issue is not whether we believe in choice, but rather who is going to make that choice. I believe that should be the person who is most closely involved in making this difficult decision – not lawmakers and judges. And I believe that’s a right that applies to every person across this country. “This draft opinion, if or when it becomes final, is a stunning, seismic reversal and will set back women’s and birthing people’s health care by decades. I am extremely concerned for women and birthing people in Pennsylvania and across this country. “Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years. Although state legislators have attempted to dismantle this right, there are now multiple generations of Americans who have only lived in a country where abortion access is a right. However, for those of us who remember a time before the Roe v. Wade decision, we know this will have monumental, horrific consequences. “Abortion bans lead to worse health outcomes for pregnant people and babies, increased rates of maternal mortality, and financial hardship that hurts families. The majority of Americans believe in the right to access abortion, and the implication that this right may be reversed is appalling. This is an attack on privacy, on bodily autonomy, and on the right to health care – but more than that, it’s an attack on our future.” Since taking office, Governor Wolf has vetoed three different anti-abortion bills introduced by members of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly and vowed to veto the rest.
Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey
The possible overturn of Roe vs. Wade is not just an attack on women, but on all Americans. Abortion is healthcare and it is clear that urgent action is needed to protect this right across our country. The U.S. House and Senate must immediately take up legislation reaffirming the right to abortion. Abortion continues to remain legal here in Pennsylvania and I will continue to do all I can to protect and defend that right.
Casey Statement on Leaked Supreme Court Decision
Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement on the Supreme Court’s leaked decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. “If this draft opinion becomes the final opinion of the Court, I have serious concerns about what overturning almost 50 years of legal precedent will mean for women in states passing near or total bans on abortion. Congress should be working to reduce the number of abortions and unintended pregnancies and doing much more to support women and families.”
HARRISBURG, April 26 – Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton today welcomed two newly elected lawmakers to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Rep. Aerion Andrew Abney and Rep. Martell Covington, both of Allegheny County, were sworn in at the start of today’s House session by Judge Tarah Toohil. Both new members will begin voting on legislation this afternoon.
“These two new members of the House Democratic Caucus bring with them years of community advocacy and service,” McClinton said. “We’re excited about what their voices will add to the thoughtful policy development and debate here in Harrisburg, and how they will elevate the concerns and interests of their neighbors.
“We’re proud to welcome them as the newest members of our state legislature.”
Abney and Covington were elected in a special election in March to represent voters in the 19th and 24th House legislative districts, respectively. Their current terms expire on Nov. 30, 2022.
Abney moved to Pittsburgh from Philadelphia to attend the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. As a former program officer with the POISE Foundation, a grantmaking institution aimed at empowering Black people across the Pittsburgh region, Abney approved more than $1.7 million in grants to local nonprofit organizations. Later he served as the Pennsylvania director of special projects for All Voting Is Local, a national organization fighting to remove discriminatory barriers at the ballot box. He currently sits on the boards of several community organizations.
For more than 12 years, Covington worked in various capacities for the Community Empowerment Association, a social service organization on the east side of Pittsburgh, eventually becoming the assistant director of Youth & Family Services. He is currently chair of its board of directors. Additionally, he served as a legislative aide to state Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa. In 2021, he was elected to serve as vice president for the Young Democrats of Allegheny County and is part of the Black Equity Coalition's Policy Team. Covington is a graduate of Howard University and has coached local youth sports for more than five years.
Abney and Covington’s committee assignments will be announced at a later date.
Rep. Aerion Andrew Abney and family.
Two 17-year-olds were killed and several more injured during a shooting at a large party in an Airbnb early Sunday morning in Pittsburgh’s East Allegheny neighborhood.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office identified Mathew Steffy-Ross, of Pitcairn, and Jaiden Brown, as the victims.
Steffy-Ross had been enrolled at Propel Braddock-Hills, according to Sonya Meadows, a spokesperson for Propel. He was in a placement program for students who run into legal problems, she said, so he hadn’t been attending the school. On March 31, he was withdrawn from Propel and enrolled in a non-traditional Christian academy, she said. Propel students are currently on spring break until Wednesday, but Meadows said supports would be in place for students and staff when they return.
Brown was set to graduate from Woodland Hills High School next month, according to KDKA. Woodland Hills says it will be reaching out to those impacted by the violence and will be providing additional counseling supports on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Around 200 people, most of them underage, were reportedly attending a party in a unit rented through Airbnb in the neighborhood, also known as Deutschtown. Gunfire erupted around 12:30 a.m. Pittsburgh police have said there was likely more than one shooter and between 50 and 90 rounds discharged during the event.
“It was mayhem,” one witness told The Trib. No arrests have yet been made.
Jaiden Brown, and Mathew Steffy-Ross, victims in shooting.
Robert Ramirez has been named the new head of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, effective Aug. 1. Ramirez joins CMU from the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), where he served as professor and chair.
Ramirez joined UT in 2014 as associate professor and head of acting. He later was named professor of acting and, in 2016, became head of the Performance Division. He was named senior associate chair and Interim chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance prior to his appointment as department chair in March 2020. During his tenure as chair, Ramirez brought his extensive professional career experience to bear, in order to benefit the student experience, as well as benefit the roles of faculty and staff in the department. He worked to transform hiring practices at UT, resulting in the addition off five full-time tenure-track faculty members of color in the last two years. He also created the role of a department intimacy director, who addresses production needs, as well as curricular and pedagogical imperatives.
Prior to his roles at UT, Ramirez was at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, serving as an associate professor of acting, voice, speech and dialects. He also was an adjunct professor of voice and speech for the stage at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City; he served in a similar role at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.
Ramirez has long been a part of the professional theater industry as well. He has worked as a professional voice artist; voice, text and acting coach; director and actor. His research interests lie in the areas of Shakespeare and classical theater, contemporary acting practices, voice and speech pedagogy, and recorded voice artist practices. He completed his undergraduate studies at the Los Angeles Theatre Academy at Los Angeles City College and earned his MFA at the University of Delaware's Professional Theatre Training Program.
"I've admired Robert's leadership for years and could not be more delighted that he will be joining us at CMU. I'm absolutely convinced that he is the right person to take the School of Drama forward, in community and in this exact moment," said Mary Ellen Poole, dean of the College of Fine Arts.
A strong believer in giving back, Ramirez intends to continue his service to the community, the university, the profession and, most importantly, the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon. Throughout his career, he has extended his reach as an academic and theater professional to help raise awareness of the power of the arts. That will not change upon his arrival in Pittsburgh, he said.
"I am, indeed, honored to join the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon," he said. "This is an opportunity to build upon the solid reputation and foundation that exist here among every discipline that contributes to the theater-making process and performance industry."
Dean Poole also commended the search committee members who assisted in bringing Ramirez on board.
“We all owe a debt of gratitude to the tireless search advisory committee co-chaired by Sartje Pickett and Tomé Cousin and assisted by a team from Isaacson Miller as well as Amy Kapp,” she said. “Members were Carolyn Hess Abraham, Mindy Eshelman, Kyle Haden, Rob Handel, Cindy Limauro, Mica Harrison Loosemore, Britton Mauk, Catherine Moore, Susan Tsu, Miso Wei, Kim Weild and Charlie White.”
Statement From Mayor Ed Gainey On Gun Violence On The Northside
“First and foremost, our hearts and our prayers go out to the victims’ families, their loved ones, and our entire city today. Thank you to our first responders, our public safety officials, and to all the hospital and EMS workers providing care to the victims.
We are using all available resources to find those responsible for this incident. Thank you to the community members who have already reached out with their information, and if you know something, say something - please call Major Crimes at 412-323-7161.
If you have any videos, pictures, or relevant information, please upload them here.
At least 10 gunshot victims, two lives lost, and hundreds of lives forever changed, because we have yet to pass meaningful legislation to lessen the amount of guns in our streets or provide the much-needed resources to communities desperately need. The time is now for us to move with a sense of urgency to bring justice to the victims and peace to our city.
We have been working on our approach to address gun violence in our city over the past several weeks. Now we will be calling a meeting with public safety and key community leaders to introduce our All In Citywide approach to public safety to get their feedback so we can build a path forward together.
It is critical that we come together now to help reduce the violence currently happening while we begin to do the long-term work of ending the culture of violence that is enabling the senseless loss of life we are experiencing today.
We must say no more and never again.”
Councilman Bobby Wilson, District 1, Added The Following:
“The mass shooting that occurred last night at an Airbnb party in East Deutschtown does not reflect that neighborhood at all. I’m working with community leaders, the Pittsburgh Police, and the Office of Mayor Ed Gainey to find out what happened and bring those responsible to justice. For now, my thoughts go out to the loved ones of all the victims of this shooting.”
Mayor Ed Gainey Statement:
"Today is an extraordinary moment in the history of our country. The confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is not only historic, but another significant step forward in shattering the proverbial glass ceiling. Her confirmation represents a milestone opportunity for our democracy to acknowledge the leadership Black women have always exhibited."
Statement from Johnnie Miott, President of Pittsburgh Branch NAACP, on Senate confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court:
"The Pittsburgh Branch NAACP applauds the Senate’s vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. The nation’s highest Court will finally have a Black woman justice deciding our most significant cases with tremendous impact on our lives and the lives of our families. Today Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson shatters the glass ceiling to finally make room for a Black woman on our nation's highest court. It was 55 years ago that former NAACP Chief Counsel Thurgood Marshall broke down barriers and was confirmed as the first Black American to sit on the Supreme Court."
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement on the Senate’s confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States is nothing short of historic. For the first time in our Nation’s history, a Black woman will take her seat on our highest court. This distinction is long overdue, but it could not go to a more deserving, well-qualified judge. Rising up to overcome so many barriers, Judge Jackson’s story—and her family’s story—is truly an American story of hard work, sacrifice and commitment to excellence. Her unparalleled professional credentials and the breadth of her legal experiences equal or exceed any nominee in recent history. What’s more, her brilliance and dedication to the rule of law are matched by her graciousness and warmth. “At its core, our court system, more so than any other institution, is dedicated to the idea that everyone deserves a fair shot at justice and no one is above the law. From her time as a public defender to her tenure on the federal bench, Judge Jackson has long fought to make this ideal a reality. No Supreme Court Justice has ever served as a public defender, until now. Judge Jackson is uniquely positioned to uphold ‘equal justice under law,’ words inscribed on the front of the Supreme Court itself. She understands that our legal system can only work when it protects all Americans; she has lived a commitment to equal justice. “Today is a good day for America. Judge Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court is an inspiration for future generations, particularly young Black women and girls. Make no mistake, we have a long way to go to make our institutions reflect the diversity of our Nation. For too long, we’ve come up short. But today, we took an historic step forward. I was honored to vote to confirm Judge Jackson to our highest court and I have no doubt she will help realize our highest ideal of equal justice under the law.”
Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Dayvon Vickers, Devonte White, and the entire community today. We are in the process of being able to connect the families with counseling and supportive services they will need to help them through this tragedy. My administration has launched a critical incident review to get a deeper understanding as to the root cause of the violence last night and we plan to release what we find as soon as we are able to.
If we are going to find peace in our communities we must find justice. All of us as a city must continue to come together as one community to solve these murders and find justice for these families. We are going to do everything we can to find those responsible for these actions.
We are facing a pandemic of gun violence in our city and we need a public health response. When we held our community meeting in Homewood we came together in conversation about our vision for zero gun deaths in our community – but we also came together to uplift and celebrate the neighborhood and hear about the pride that people have about their community.
We know that our goal is going to be hard to accomplish, but that doesn’t mean that we should be afraid to try to find a path to peace in Homewood and in every neighborhood in Pittsburgh.
It is time to end the pandemic of violence that is taking the lives of too many young people in our city.
Kimberly Easton, a former television news anchor and reporter at WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh, PA was found dead Monday (February 7, 2022) at her home in Columbus, Indiana. Easton worked at WPXI-TV from 04-2003 to 08-2010 and later held positions as a journalist for a number of television stations nationwide. Easton's sister, Kelly Easton of Columbus, says she died of heart failure, she was 56. "We had a wellness check on Kimberly Monday after not hearing from her, at that time, Columbus police found Kimberly dead in her home. We are absolutely devastated as a family of her sudden passing." Kelly says that the last time she spoke to Kimberly was Friday night."
Kimberly leaves behind a daughter, three grandchildren and an legacy where she was committed to diversity and inclusion disparities in education. Through her work she wanted underrepresented citizens to be heard and she was devoted to helping to bridge the gap of inequities in education.
On a personal blog, Kimberly posted the following biography:
Kimberly Easton, our Multicultural Diversity leader for the District, is a native of Columbus, Indiana. Easton, who founded KEI Connects, moved into the strategic communications industry after an extensive career as an award-winning Television News Anchor | Reporter. Easton has lived and worked all over the country with stints in the states of Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, and Kentucky including Chicago, Illinois. She’s interviewed sports legend, Hank Aaron; poet, Maya Angelou; actress, Eartha Kitt; and political figures, Jesse Jackson, Oliver North, Governor Douglas Wilder, the First Black Governor of Virginia. Easton’s recognition for professional excellence in broadcasting include the National Association of Professional Women, the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, numerous Michigan Associated Press Awards and the coveted Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcaster’s Award. With her media talents and connections, Easton directed and assisted in the publishing of several books, one of which hit the New York Times Best Sellers list on the day of its release. Armed with a Master’s Degree in Communications and The Arts, an array of experiences in the field of communications, and a threshold of cultural experiences; Easton, as our Multicultural Diversity Leader, will continue to work with BCSC’s Stakeholder Guide Teams on the following initiatives established by the District: Diverse Curriculum Restorative Justice Under-represented Teacher Retention & Recruitment Family Academic Achievement Network | FAAN Kimberly loves traveling, swimming and spending time with family and friends, especially her 5 and 2-year old grandsons. She remains a long-time member of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Recently, Kimberly had been working for the past three years with The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation (BCSC) as the Multi-Cultural Coordinator. The organization released the following statement today regarding her passing:
COLUMBUS, Ind. – The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation (BCSC) announced Tuesday morning the sudden passing of Multi-Cultural Coordinator Kimberly Easton. During her three years with the school system, Easton led many diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts around the district.
Easton developed guiding teams in the areas of Diverse Curriculum, Family Academic Achievement Network, Under-Represented Teacher Recruitment and Retention, and Restorative Justice. A Columbus North graduate, Easton returned to her hometown after a successful career in journalism and the founding of KEI Connects, a strategic communications company.
“In her time here, Kimberly was very passionate about her work. She cared for all of our students, and especially our marginalized students,” BCSC Director of Secondary Education Bill Jensen said.
Superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts added, “Based on the significant work that Kimberly started when beginning her role with us, we transitioned her from part to full-time to help ensure all students had better access to opportunity. Kimberly was critical to their continued growth and development.
On Wednesday, October 13, 2021, Jim Rogers was placed in Pittsburgh Bureau of Police (PBP) custody after officers responded to a call in Bloomfield. The officer on scene deployed his Taser during the response. Following his arrest, Mr. Rogers was transported to Mercy Hospital by police, where he passed away the following day.
Pursuant to policy, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police empaneled an internal Critical Incident Review Board (CIRB) to evaluate officers’ actions and gauge policy compliance. Additionally, the Allegheny County Police Department is independently investigating the incident with the full cooperation of the PBP. Over the course of two months, the CIRB has reviewed evidence including all available video, officer statements and Pittsburgh Bureau of Police general orders and training. The Board found that a series of procedural failures contributed to this tragic outcome.
Eight Pittsburgh Bureau of Police officers, including two supervisors, will face varying levels of discipline in accordance with the Fraternal Order of Police collective bargaining agreement. We are not permitted to discuss details of the disciplinary process.
In recent years, the City of Pittsburgh implemented several measures to ensure accountability, including mandatory de-escalation and implicit bias training for officers and participation in The National Initiative for Building Community Trust & Justice, which examines policy and aims to increase trust within our community. However, it is clear more needs to be done.
Therefore, the CIRB recommended the following policy and procedural changes:
Any use of force incident will require the presence of a supervisor on scene to complete a medical assessment and request appropriate personnel
Any incident involving the positive deployment of a Taser will require emergency medical services personnel to assess the patient
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police personnel will be retrained in accordance with established PBP Training Academy Duty to Intervene policy
PBP will streamline its organizational review of Use of Force by both appropriate command staff and the Training Academy to expeditiously ensure policy compliance
“It is imperative that every critical incident is reviewed promptly,” said Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich. “By identifying the problem, it allows us to expeditiously make corrections that are put into policy in a timely manner.”
Immediately following this incident, all sworn PBP officers were required to complete a Taser refresher course followed by an exam. This course is in addition to the yearly mandated Taser recertification requirement for all officers.
Further, the PBP will require its officers to become fully certified Emergency Medical Responders.
The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police would like to express its most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Jim Rogers. We thank them for their patience in affording the CIRB the time and latitude to investigate the events that led up to his tragic death.
“Jim Rogers will serve as a sober reminder of the tremendous responsibility all officers bear when they wear the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police badge. Every resident and visitor to the City of Pittsburgh is owed the highest standard of care when they are in the custody of Pittsburgh Police. In the case of Jim Rogers, we failed our fellow citizen. The disciplinary measures and procedural changes we are announcing today are intended to ensure a tragedy such as this never occurs again in the City of Pittsburgh,” said Police Chief, Scott Schubert.
Pittsburgh Public Safety will not be offering any further comment at this time.
Source: City of Pittsburghh
An old photo of Jim Rogers, he died in a hospital a day after an incident where police tased him.
Dr. Walters is District’s Longest-Serving Central Office Administrator
Most Recently as Assistant Superintendent
PITTSBURGH, September 29, 2021 – Tonight, at its September Legislative Meeting, the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education named Dr. Wayne N. Walters as Interim Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools in a unanimous vote by its nine-member Board. Dr. Walters begins his role in the top leadership post on Friday, October 1, 2021, and will continue in this capacity for one year or until a permanent Superintendent is hired and on board.
Dr. Walters has worked his entire professional career for the Pittsburgh Public Schools and has more than 30 years’ experience with PPS, the second-largest public school system in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He has experience as a Teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, Assistant Superintendent of 6-12 Schools, and, most recently, Assistant Superintendent of Professional Development and Special Programming.
“Dr. Walters is no stranger to us. We know firsthand that his commitment to Pittsburgh Public Schools and the City of Pittsburgh is unwavering,” stated Sylvia Wilson, Board President. “Couple this with Dr. Walters’ depth of experience and unmatched skill level, we could not be more pleased that Dr. Walters has agreed to serve as Interim Superintendent. We needed someone who could immediately step into this critically important role and begin to immediately address the many priorities in the District. Even though we had an excellent pool of Interim Superintendent candidates, Dr. Walters stood out as the best.”
Coming from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Dr. Walters came to Pittsburgh when he was 16 to attend Carnegie Mellon University, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in music performance/music education in 1990. At age 21, he started his first teaching position at King Elementary on Pittsburgh’s North Side. By 1998, he received a Masters’ degree in Music Education/Technology from Duquesne University; and earned a Doctor of Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2007.
The 51-year-old educator said he always has had a passion for working directly with students with the goal of making an impact on their lives through education. When asked about his proudest achievement, Dr. Walters says without hesitancy: “It’s what I have been able to do for students.” He pursued the Interim Superintendent position because, “When there’s an opportunity to serve, I want to step up. Children’s lives are on the line, and we need to elevate the quality of teaching and accelerate learning for all students.” This devotion comes through his often used expression such as “because of the students” and “students first” in making decisions with students first in mind.
In addition, Dr. Walters hopes to address and advance organizational cohesion in the District through systems-oriented thinking. He also aims to cultivate stakeholder relationships through collaboration, trust, and clear communications. “We’re all here for the same reason: We want Pittsburgh Public Schools to be the best it can be,” said Dr. Walters.
“We have an incredibly hardworking staff, the best teachers and devoted administrators—and all of us have the great responsibility and privilege of educating our students. We remain committed to our core function and that is helping students learn to their fullest abilities,” said Dr. Walters. Under his leadership as Principal, Barack Obama Academy of International Studies placed in the top 10 percent national ranking of Best High Schools by U.S. News & World Report after two years in existence as a 6-12 school.
Board President Wilson noted that Dr. Walters is “assuming this responsibility at a time when the District needed stabilization and healing. He is ready for this challenge and opportunity.”
Earlier this month, the Board voted to accept Dr. Anthony Hamlet’s resignation as Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools after he resigned on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. Beginning in December, the incoming School Board will direct the national search for a permanent Superintendent.
The Coraopolis NAACP is alarmed by and deeply concerned about the recent and ongoing
conduct of Sewickley Academy in apparently renouncing its prior, board-approved commitment
to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice in its strategic plan. Yet more concerning,
conduct includes sudden termination of three well-qualified and well-experienced African American professionals, as well as other personnel and reorganization decisions that undercut its
commitment to diversity, and which prompted two African-American board members to resign,
appears to come on the heels of an anonymous letter characterizing the Academy’s commitment
to diversity, and its diverse students, as “political” and “radical,” no doubt motivated by the
ongoing manufactured panic concerning the teaching of critical race theory in schools. Somehow
more concerning still, the anonymous letter writers appear to have misappropriated students’
private information, including their residential addresses, in issuing their letter.
Nearly seventy years ago, the NAACP fought to establish diversity, equity, inclusion, and social
justice in education as basic American values, litigating and prevailing in Brown versus Board of
Education. The case ended racial segregation in public schools. Consistent with its current
overall mission to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all citizens,
achieve equality of rights, eliminate race prejudice among the citizens of the United States, and
remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes. Its mission recognizes
that education is critical not just to present students but also toward the shared progress of our
Values recognized in Brown are crucial to our Republic and its commitment to equal justice
under law and have more to do with the Constitution than critical race theory. Therefore, the
anonymous letter writers should reflect on whether their efforts are politically radical or
reactionary products of cynical political theatrics. Indeed, their anonymity and misuse of
students’ private identifying information represents an echo of the conduct of groups more
proximate to Brown, who fought desegregation at every turn, including by violence and both
overt and subtle threats thereof.
Sewickley Academy would do well to consider whether it is willing to sacrifice its staff, its
commitment to diversity, and, most importantly, its students’ ability to navigate a world in order
to satiate the fears of an anonymous contingent. Our children, our region, and our Republic
deserve better than abrupt, regressive decisions.
In the short term, we call on Sewickley Academy to begin proceeding with respect to this
problem with complete candor, transparency, and cooperation with relevant stakeholders,
including the Concerned Parents of Sewickley, ourselves, and the Academy’s accrediting body,
the National Association of Independent Schools. In the long term, we believe that the
Academy’s only just course of action is to reconsider and reverse its gravely ill-advised course of
conduct, publicly reaffirm its prior, board-approved commitment to diversity, equality, inclusion,
and social justice as it stood before these unfortunate decisions, and denounce the anonymous
letter writers’ efforts and conversion of sensitive information as antiquated, misguided, and
contrary to the best interests of the Academy, its students, and our community.