Community
4:40 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Pittsburgh for Trayvon Group Delivers Demands to URA

Members of the group Pittsburgh for Trayvon read a "love letter" to Pittsburgh to the Urban Redevelopment Authority board.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The group Pittsburgh for Trayvon has a list of demands it is giving city officials.

On Thursday the group surprised the Urban Redevelopment Authority at its monthly meeting.

Four members of Pittsburgh for Trayvon read a “love letter” to Pittsburgh to the board and gave them a list of their demands.

According to the group’s website, those demands include ridding black neighborhoods of food deserts and requiring “all employees of government and service institutions attend anti-racist training and are held accountable for demonstrations of white privilege and supremacy,” among other things.

“We’re talking about access to healthy food, we’re talking about access to health care,” said group member Bekazela Mguni. “We have one of the largest health care industries in the country, and people in this community are suffering and don’t have access to free health care, and it’s deplorable.”

URA board members appeared a bit confused but thanked the group as they left. Jim Ferlo, URA board member and state senator, left the meeting to address the group. He said their demands weren’t clear.

“You should call me because … I had no idea what the hell you were talking about,” Ferlo said. “I would enjoy the opportunity to sit down and speak with you directly because I’m concerned about the overall framework of what your comments were, so please call me so I can sit down with you.”

Group members asked Ferlo to read through their demands, which they handed to the URA. He agreed to do that and asked them to call his office to set up a meeting.

The group was formed after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Formed by women, it’s meant to highlight racial inequalities and injustice in Pittsburgh and beyond.

Among the concerns of the Pittsburgh for Trayvon group is how the URA invests in communities, particularly black communities.

“As far as development is concerned in communities, it is things like taking money that is allocated for blighted communities and putting it into multi-million dollar developments that do not benefit the community at all, that do not work to build up the economic infrastructure, that shuffle people around from neighborhood to neighborhood, that just dismiss the people who have made their lives there,” said group member Joy KMT.

The group is also demanding that Pittsburgh renounce “America’s Most Livable City” title until all other demands are met. KMT said making sure all are equal in the city is important to everyone.

“What affects black Pittsburgh doesn’t just affect black Pittsburgh, it affects the quality of life,” she said. “Any time you have 25 percent of a population living in deplorable conditions, it doesn’t just affect that 25 percent of people, it affects all of Pittsburgh. This is not just black Pittsburgh’s problem, this is Pittsburgh’s problem.”

The group said it expects the URA to respond to its demands within three business days.