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

Between Scott Schubert's recent appointed as Pittsburgh's new police chief and President Donald Trump's vow to be a “law and order" president, Pittsburgh Director of Alliance for Police Accountability Brandi Fisher is very busy.

Gerry Bloome / AP

Facial recognition systems look fast and effective in the movies and on television crime shows, but a new report shows that these identification tools suffer from some of the same biases that we’ve heard about when humans try to identify an alleged criminal.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Politicians from the local and state level are partnering in a new way to find out what issues are most important to Pittsburgh’s black residents and how to address them.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

It was a busy day of protest in Pittsburgh.

In support of the rights of immigrants, more than 100 people linked arms and marched into a South Side intersection on Saturday, blocking traffic for 15 minutes. 

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

Walk around the offices of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, and you'll find plans to do good behind every door. There's a food bank, a land bank, a work skills class, and programs to assist with affordable housing.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

President Donald Trump spent more than a year of his campaign promising to build a wall along the Mexican border to stop the flow of Hispanic immigrants from coming into the U.S.

Rosamaria Cristello, site director of the Latino Family Center in Hazelwood, says that rhetoric -- now from the White House, not a lone candidate -- is breeding fear among Pittsburgh’s growing Latino community.

Israel Tourism / flickr

In the months following the election of President Donald Trump, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented more than 1,000 incidents of harassment and intimidation across the country. Of the cases, more than 140 targeted Jewish people.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) announced Thursday that State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh will shut down by June 30, 2017.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

It’s been three weeks since the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) announced five prisons were being considered for closure: State Correctional Institutions Pittsburgh and Mercer in the western part of the state, and Waymart, Retreat, and Frackville in the east.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Ride-sharing service Uber announced Tuesday it will fund all rides for women to the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. 

Free rides will also be provided to legal, medical and other appointments for those staying in the shelter through the $10,000 donation from Uber.  

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Pittsburgh's mayor and acting police chief on Tuesday met with the family of a homeowner fatally shot by officers responding to a home burglar alarm.

Police say officers shot 57-year-old Christopher Thompkins after someone fired gunshots in their direction as they arrived at Thompkins’ home about 4 a.m. Sunday.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

It's possible that Bret Grote gets more mail from state prison inmates than anyone else in Pittsburgh.

As the co-founder and legal director of the Abolitionist Law Center, he says he is “dedicated to the abolition of race- and class-based mass incarceration.”

The non-profit law firm provides legal services for people who are incarcerated.

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The ex-wife of a Pittsburgh homeowner fatally shot by police responding to a burglary call says officers "shot the wrong guy."

Brenda and Christopher Thompkins were in bed when they spotted an intruder in the house at about 4 a.m. Sunday.

Christopher Thompkins grabbed Brenda's gun and was headed downstairs when he fired at the intruder. Police say two officers who responded to a security alarm thought the shots were fired at them. They returned fire and killed Thompkins.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Masses of people flooded parks, streets and city squares around the world Saturday marching in solidarity in a show of empowerment and a stand against President Donald Trump.

The crowds of women, men and children stood in the rain, snow and sun. Many wore pink "pussyhats" to mock the new president.

As they moved through streets or gathered in parks, they voiced support for women and immigrants' rights, health care, Black Lives Matter, education and other causes. Many carried signs with messages such as "Love trumps hate" and "Women won't back down."

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

 

Thousands were out demonstrating in Pittsburgh in Saturday's unseasonably warm weather. 

 

As many as 25,000 were estimated to have packed downtown as part of the Women's March on Pittsburgh, a sister march of the national one in Washington D.C. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds gathered in the Hill District Friday afternoon and pledged to uphold civil rights in Pittsburgh at the People’s Inauguration.

Representatives from social justice groups, including Fight for Fifteen, Planned Parenthood and the Black Lives Matters movement addressed the crowd about the importance of inclusiveness going into the administration of President Donald Trump.

Summit Against Racism

Pittsburgh’s 19th annual Summit Against Racism takes place Saturday.

This year’s summit coordinator Mary Parker said with so many other events going on this weekend surrounding the inauguration of Donald Trump, she received some requests to move the date of her event.

She said the summit is always held the Saturday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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In activist Sueño Del Mar's mind, Pittsburgh is always moving forward.

“We don’t sit by silently,” she said.

But even in a city with a rich history of social movements and organizing, corralling the events scheduled the week Donald Trump takes office has been tough. It certainly was not a unified front.

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.

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