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.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

 


Gynecologist Colleen Krajewski tells anyone who will listen -- intrauterine devices are "the Cadillac of birth control right now.”

Miles Karson for Mercer County DA / Facebook

A western Pennsylvania prosecutor plans to release details about the police shooting of a transgender suspect whose mother called police saying she was being threatened.

Mercer County District Attorney Miles Karson Jr. says his staff was briefed last week by state troopers who investigated the shooting of Sean Marie Hake by Sharon police on Jan. 6. The DA plans to announce their findings at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

The 23-year-old suspect was born female but identified as male and used the name Sean Ryan Hake at the time of the shooting.

Fight Back Pittsburgh

Hundreds of Pittsburghers will head to Washington D.C. this weekend to participate in protests and events coinciding President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Sixteen people were sworn in Friday as members of Pittsburgh’s new LGBTQIA+ Advisory Council. The group aims to find ways to meet the needs of the city’s LGBT community and offer strategies for implementing inclusive policies.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

In December, Sala Udin was recognized by President Barack Obama with a presidential pardon.

The 73-year-old native of Pittsburgh's Hill District served seven months of a five-year prison sentence in 1972.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Like any former steel town in western Pennsylvania, Aliquippa has struggled since the industry collapsed in the 1980s. But in a town known for its football superstars, Mayor Dwan Walker, now in his second term, wants to prove that his city is ready and eager for revitalization. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Martin Esquivel-Hernandez, a local activist who entered the country illegally, reached a plea deal Thursday in his deportation case. 

Esquivel-Hernandez, who is originally from Mexico, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor illegal re-entry charge at a hearing at the federal courthouse. 

Darryl Bush / AP

A Pennsylvania appellate court says two women joined in a civil union in Vermont should be able to dissolve it in Pennsylvania.

The state Superior Court's decision Wednesday overturned a ruling in Philadelphia's family court that it lacked jurisdiction to dissolve the civil union.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Lawyers for a Pittsburgh man accused of entering the United States multiple times without permission are asking for prosecutors to lessen the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Martin Esquivel-Hernandez lived with his wife and three children in Pittsburgh’s Beechview neighborhood, where he was an activist for immigration rights. He was arrested in May and has been in a private prison in Youngstown, Ohio.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Deb Schmersal glides around the floor, holding hands with her partner, Jeffrey, as they dance. Their moves aren’t perfect, but that’s not the point at Yes, You Can Dance!

The organization, founded in 2011, uses dance to promote wellness for people with special needs, chronic degenerative diseases and disabilities.

Over the past six years, it has grown and blossomed with the help of some dedicated volunteers, including Schmersal.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Dominic “Mickey” Sgro leaned on the back of a highly adaptive, metallic pink bicycle shaking his head. His friend is bragging on him again.

Kristi Jan Hoover / City Theatre

For Pittsburgh’s theater community, national headlines like “Oscars So White” feel just as relevant to local stage productions. 

City Theatre Company artistic producer Reginald L. Douglas said playwrights often write with certain types of actors in mind to speak about themes of race, class or gender. A play about the immigrant experience could be cast with white actors, he said, but that might not tell the same story.

Dad Who Received Cell Phone Video Of His Lifeless Son Is Headed To Trial

Dec 13, 2016
Allegheny County Police

 

A man accused of not calling 911 when the mother of his toddler son sent him videos of the boy's lifeless body during hours' worth of angry text messages is headed to trial on child endangerment charges.

Andre Price Jr., 24, of McKeesport, waived a preliminary hearing Monday.

Defense attorney James Sheets said Price is still mourning the death of his 17-month-old son, Andre III. Sheets told The Associated Press that the boy's mother, Christian Clark, had made similar, but empty, threats before to kill the boy and the couple's 2-year-old daughter, Angel.

Philadelphia To Ban Employers From Asking Salary History

Dec 8, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

 

Philadelphia will soon ban employers from asking job applicants for their salary history.

Supporters have argued such questions perpetuate pay discrimination against women and minorities.

Councilman Bill Greenlee, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation, told The Philadelphia Inquirer "it's about fairness."

He said employers should base the salary offer on what the job is worth and what experience the applicant brings.

A spokesman for Mayor Jim Kenney said he will sign it into law.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh man who was arrested in May for being in the United States illegally declined to take a plea deal negotiated in federal court Thursday as expected. Lawyers for Martin Esquivel-Hernandez said they'd hoped their client’s felony re-entry charges would be reduced to misdemeanors, which would have decreased the possibility of his deportation.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

When someone is incarcerated, they family members – especially children – can be forgotten, but Elizabeth Mansley works hard to remember them. 

Last year, Mansley, a Mt. Aloysius College associate professor of criminology, and her students launched The Storybook Project.

“The idea actually came from my daughter,” Mansley said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s acting Police Chief Scott Schubert assured a group gathered in Larimer Wednesday night that he would follow through with former chief Cameron McLay’s vision for the force in improving community relations.

“We can’t be successful out in the community if we don’t have the support of the public,” he said Wednesday.

Leslie Chatfield / flickr

Pittsburgh could become the first municipality in the state to ban conversion therapy for minors who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. City Council introduced legislation Tuesday that would prevent parents and guardians from forcing youth to undergo the practice.   

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

*UPDATED: 8:20 p.m.

The Service Employees International Union targeted McDonald's restaurants and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center with marches demanding a $15 minimum wage and union representation.

The union contends UPMC shuttle bus workers have also gone on strike seeking union representation.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

Video footage from police dashboard and body cameras remains very difficult to obtain in Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court is currently considering what the rules for disclosure should be.

In a new survey of public records access in the state, dash cam videos were by far the least likely to be produced upon request.

Find Some Flow

Three years ago, when Ian Neumaier started to think about playing games as a way to bring people together, he had no idea what he was getting into.

“We didn’t have a full understanding of the environment and the systems at play,” said Neumaier who eventually founded the nonprofit Find Some Flow.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

A few decades ago, Terri Baltimore tagged along with a group of architecture students and their professor while they were visiting the Hill District.

“And what they said about this neighborhood broke my heart,” she said. “That it was dirty.

Pamela Au / Bigstock, via WHYY

 

Birth certificates, U.S. passports, Social Security cards — these are just some of the official documents on which a trans person's gender or legal name might not match their identity.

Shawn DeVault of Easton, Pennsylvania, who uses the pronoun "they," said the election pushed them to finally change their legal name.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In the short period of time that the city’s Big Burgh mobile app, aimed at helping the homeless find resources, has been available, it has far exceeded usage expectations.

Launched at the end of August, the app has seen 11,000 site visits, said Bob Firth, founder of Informing Design, which created the app.

"To put that in perspective, the app of the entire region of Australian, with 23 million people in the same time period, got 20 percent fewer site visits,” Firth said. “The app for San Francisco, which has 850,000 people, got 35 percent fewer site visits."

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak urged her colleagues to adopt gender equality legislation accepted by most United Nations countries decades ago at a post-agenda meeting and public hearing on Tuesday.

The international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW, was adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly; the United State is one of six nations that has still not signed on to the treaty.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

About 50 advocates for local activist and Mexican immigrant Martín Esquivel-Hernandez held a rally in downtown Pittsburgh Tuesday morning, calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stop deportation proceedings against him.

daveynin / Flickr

A three-day housing summit hosted by the University of Pittsburgh this weekend will bring together academics and activists.

The University-Community Housing Summit will explore urban renewal, human rights and gentrification through talks, workshops and neighborhood tours.

Mindy Thompson gave the keynote address Thursday. Her 2013 book Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America's Sorted-Out Cities explored the urban renewal of Pittsburgh’s Hill District.

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Two York County School of Technology High School students face disciplinary action after they carried a Donald Trump campaign sign while “white power” was chanted as they walked through the school’s halls Wednesday. 

Renie Mezzanotti, the school's communications and outreach coordinator, said the incident happened while students were walking into the school at the beginning of the day and administrators were quick to squash the issue.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto met with the city’s public safety director, police chief and commander of special deployment Thursday to set a standard operating procedure for de-escalating public protests.

Marvel Comics

 

Crafting a longer narrative voice for comics wasn't a huge stretch for Pittsburgh artist Yona Harvey.

“I feel like by nature I’m already a visual thinker,” said Harvey, “so that was already alive as a poet.”

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