Tim Stevens

Essential Pittsburgh: Re-Drafting 'You and The Police'

Apr 1, 2015
macwagen / flickr

The original version of the pamphlet titled "You and The Police" has been around since the mid-1990s, published after Jonny Gammage's death during a traffic stop. Now, the Pittsburgh police bureau has collaborated with the Black Political Empowerment Project, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Citizen Police Review Board on an updated version of the brochure, which they hope will be distributed in public schools and churches across the city. The handout offers tips on how to handle interactions with the police at traffic stops, within a private home and during an arrest. B-PEP Founder Tim Stevens, ACLU Legal Director Vic Walczak, and Executive Director of the CPRB Beth Pittinger explain the new information and why the city believes the pamphlet's re-introduction is necessary.  Walczak cautioned that, though he thought the brochure is helpful and would minimize negative police interactions, it wouldn't completely solve the problem. 

"There's no silver bullet. No matter how good the brochure is and how wide a distribution you put out, it's not a guarantee that everything is going to be hunky dory. You're going to have misunderstandings. Some employees, like in any business, are not going to follow the rules or do the right thing."- Vic Walczak

Also today, Joe Wos presents the story of the "world's greatest liar" (a Pittsburgh-er, of course) in honor of April Fool's Day. 


In the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown and, more recently the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson, Mo., a brochure is going out to the Pittsburgh community outlining rights, responsibilities and realities of police encounters.

“For instance, you have the right to curse at a police officer, but it’s not a good idea in most cases to do that,” said Tim Stevens, president and founder of the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), “so we’re talking about what your rights are, what your responsibilities are as a citizen and what the reality is.”

Jess Lasky

Facing more than $9 million in debt, a possible foreclosure and two proposals for solutions, the August Wilson Center for African American Culture’s fate rests in the hands of the legal system, and the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) is urging that the center be left for it's original purposes.  

On Sept. 29 a trial will determine if the AWC has to uphold covenants that were set in place to protect the center when it was built just five years ago.

Pittsburgh residents brought their concerns about police misconduct to City Council Tuesday during an open forum.

Concerned citizens brought up many issues, including a lack of diversity on the police force, racial profiling and overly aggressive policing in communities with high crime rates.

Rashad Byrdsong, president and CEO of the Homewood Community Empowerment Association, said law-abiding citizens of his community are stuck in a difficult situation.

U.S. Marines/Wikipedia

Nelson Harrison is a Pittsburgh musician who teaches jazz and played with numerous groups including the Count Basie Orchestra. He was at the March on Washington in 1963 and talks about how the march shaped who he is today.

Flickr

Last week's 5-4 Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act struck down a key aspect that has been used to promote and protect the political power of minority voters. This has not gone over well with many activists and civic organizations. 

Among the concerned groups is Pittsburgh's Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), who held a press conference yesterday to voice their disappointment with the court's decision.

Today, B-PEP Chairman Tim Stevens discussed the far reaching implications for voting rights.

Pittsburgh City Council will hold a post-agenda meeting and public hearing Wednesday, March 6 to discuss what qualities should be sought in the next Pittsburgh Chief of Police.

The hearing was arranged at the request of the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) in conjunction with several supporting organizations to address relations between the community and the police, said Tim Stevens, chairman and CEO of B-PEP.