Identity & Justice

The identity and justice desk explores how the makeup of the Pittsburgh community is changing, and digs into issues of diversity and equity.

Muslim Women's Association of Pittsburgh

A new retail storefront is the latest effort by the Muslim Women’s Association of Pittsburgh to empower women and support its mission.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh police officer is under investigation for using a taser on a downtown pizza shop employee allegedly as a joke in October.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

It’s been a eventful news year in the Steel City, from hospital booms to repeated flush and boil orders to President Trump's impact on Pennsylvania.

90.5 WESA

A pilot program to provide skill-building career services to immigrants is launching at seven Pittsburgh organizations. These include resettlement agencies, the Allegheny County Library Association and the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

 

When 22-year-old Kristian Trump Goerman died of a drug overdose in January, she left behind two young children. Trump Goerman had long battled an opioid addiction, and child welfare officials had removed 4-year-old Cameron and 1-year-old Layla May from her care about a year before her death.

Jose Luis Magana / AP

Eleven governors, including Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor Tom Wolf,  are urging Congress to save an imperiled program that protects young immigrants from deportation.

Emma Lee / WHYY

About 4,000 DACA recipients who tried to renew their participation in the program before October 5, 2017 missed that deadline.

Some of those applications — no joke — got lost in the mail.

Twenty-six-year-old Osman Enriquez, a stone mason and construction worker in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is one of them. Last week, that postal carrier snafu landed him in immigration detention.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

The City of Pittsburgh is working to make all playgrounds more accessible for children with differing abilities, as part of a new initiative launched Monday.

Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Some of the communities experiencing the most rapid changes in Pennsylvania are those that abut colleges and universities.

State College, for instance, has boomed in recent years largely due to the growing influence of Pennsylvania State University’s Main Campus. In general, this development has been positive for surrounding Center County, where there’s been a 10 percent rise in median household income since 2009.

But this growth hasn’t necessarily been a tide that’s lifted all boats, leaving fewer options for affordable housing in the area.

Grand Jury: Penn State Showed 'Shocking Apathy' To Drinking

Dec 15, 2017
Gene J. Puskar / AP

A grand jury's report in the wake of a fraternity pledge's drinking death said Friday that Penn State officials displayed "a shocking apathy" to dangers from excessive drinking and that its inaction allowed criminal acts to occur.

Kathleen J. Davis

A woman who worked at a Penn State satellite campus apparently was shot dead by her estranged husband in a university parking lot on Wednesday, and the man then killed himself, police said.

Matthew Hatfield / AP Photo

Two months ago, the parents of University of Pittsburgh student Alina Sheykhet found her dead inside her Oakland apartment. The 20 year old had been raped and murdered, allegedly by her former boyfriend, against whom she'd filed a protection from abuse order weeks earlier.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

About 10 miles south of Pittsburgh, huge cardboard boxes of donated toys are scattered across 20,000 square feet of chilly, donated West Mifflin warehouse space.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

As a young black man, playwright Nathan James often felt like he had to mask his emotions. The Pittsburgh native returns to the August Wilson Center this week to perform his one man play “Growing Pains.” 90.5 WESA’s Virginia Alvino Young recently spoke with James about his show, which looks at how and where we grow up impacts who we become. 


Timeline: The Saga Of Meek Mill And How He Ended Up In Jail

Dec 5, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Meek Mill's imprisonment on a probation violation has set off a flurry of legal appeals, criticism of the criminal justice system, newspaper opinion pieces, rallies, billboards and bus ads. A look at how the 30-year-old Philadelphia rapper, whose "Dreams Worth More Than Money" won a Billboard award for top rap album last year, ended up in a Pennsylvania prison roughly a decade after his 2007 arrest:

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HOW DID ALL THIS START?

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

In September, a report from the state auditor general’s office declared Pennsylvania’s child welfare system “broken.”

Now, lawmakers have begun considering how to improve it. 

The first committee hearing on the report focused largely on how to keep qualified case workers on the job.

On average, those employees don’t make a huge salary. The audit showed the average entry level pay is just over $30,000 per year.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said that might be why some counties see up to half of their case workers quit within in a year.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Multicultural Liaison Unit launched Wednesday to help bridge the cultural and communication gap between the Department of Public Safety and immigrant and refugee communities.

Case Weighs Whether Anti-Police Rap Lyrics Constitute Threat

Nov 28, 2017
Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

A dispute over rap lyrics dropped Tuesday before Pennsylvania's highest court, where justices will have to decide whether they constitute a criminal threat to police or amount to protected speech under the First Amendment.

The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Jamal Knox, who served time in state prison for the song he recorded after being arrested on drug charges.

Questions from the justices focused on whether Knox intended it as a true threat to officers and whether the reaction to the song by police is relevant to the criminal charges.

Pennsylvanians Increasingly Turning To New Protective Orders

Nov 27, 2017
Sophia Tareen / AP, file

Pennsylvanians are increasingly turning to a two-year-old Pennsylvania law that expanded protective orders for victims of sexual violence and intimidation, and state lawmakers are debating whether to make additional improvements to the system.

ed to Friday, April 18, 2
M. Spencer Green / AP

Attorney-client privilege was designed to protect open communication between an attorney and his or her client. What the accused says is confidential, but what happens when that privilege sends an innocent man to life in prison?

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Parents, side by side, held signs calling for Superintendent Toni Shute to resign.

“Give Shute the boot,” they chanted outside of a packed Oct. 9 Brooke County School District board meeting in Wellsburg, W.Va.

Sheila May-Stein / Twitter

Brandon Sears, 15, started playing soccer for Pittsburgh’s Obama Academy this fall. It didn’t take long for an opposing player to call him the n-word.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The discussion around race in America has evolved over the past 20 years. That’s when the book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race was originally published. Now, author and researcher Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum is out with an updated edition. 

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

A widely-shared Politico article used Johnstown, Pa. as a lens to showcase the loyalty of President Trump’s supporters one year after his election. But local residents are balking at the portrait of Johnstown that emerged from the story. 

Keith Srakocic / AP


Allegheny County has adopted a new comprehensive policy regarding the treatment of pregnant inmates—a result of a suit filed against the county alleging cruel and unusual punishment of five women who were placed in solitary confinement for minor infractions.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A former Pittsburgh police sergeant has been sentenced to 27 months in prison on a conviction of violating the civil rights of drunken teenager in an assault at a high school football game two years ago.

Mark Duncan / AP

Most companies hire based on a set of traditional criteria. For police, it's often prior military or law enforcement experience, physical fitness and maybe some higher education. One department in Minnesota decided to prioritize recruiting a different kind of officer. 

Brian Bohannon / AP

The American Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday it had reached an agreement with Allegheny County regarding the solitary confinement of pregnant inmates at the county jail.

Jeff Roberson / AP

Criminal prosecutors can protect the public and build up their communities, but they can also make the system more punitive and send many more people to prison and jail. Yet for all of their importance, many prosecutors, once elected, serve for multiple terms and often run unopposed. 

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

A lawsuit filed Monday against the Allegheny County Jail and its administration claims the jail allowed a transgender inmate to be repeatedly sexually abused while she was incarcerated with male inmates.

The suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and The Law Offices of Timothy O’Brien on behalf of Jules Williams is seeking damages.

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