For the young black men at today's Pittsburgh rally to support Ferguson, Mo, the death of Michael Brown is a terrifying reality. Brown was a high school graduate shot and killed on Aug. 9 by a police officer.
"As a black man who is the same age as Michael Brown, it worries me that I basically have to feel unsafe whenever I'm around a police officer," said Malcolm Williams, a CAPA High School graduate attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
"I could easily be the next Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin," said Kasem Kydd, a Jamaica, Queens native also referring to another young black man who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
At the rally at the Downtown Federal Building today, Pittsburghers stood in solidarity with Brown's family and other victims of police brutality. The rally was spurred by last night's announcement by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch that a grand jury would not indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Brown four times.
"How could they possibly not find some evidence of guilt on any of those charges," said Pete Shell of the Thomas Merton Antiwar Committee. "This is just another sign that there is a war on people of color."
"They criminalize every Black person who is shot by a cop," said Bekezela Mguni. "They try to justify our death."
Pittsburgh has had it's own share of incidents involving police brutality. One of the most recent involved Leon Ford, a teenager who was paralyzed after being shot by police who pulled him over for driving through a stop sign.
In addition to calling for justice for Brown and the indictment, arrest and prosecution of Wilson, the officer who shot him, the protesters today also called for justice at the local level. The organizers also want to see the reinstatement of a federal consent decree overseeing Pittsburgh police
They are demanding the officer who shot Ford be assigned to desk duty and for the local district attorney to prosecute officers for misconduct. In September, a jury found Ford not guilty of two felony counts of aggravated assault and the organizers of today's event are asking that remaining charges of reckless endangerment and resisting arrest be dropped.
"We're going to be gathering people to strategically figure our what our moves will be," says Julia Johnson, one of the event's organizer. "We're considering direct action, civil disobedience, voter registration drives, and making our people more sustainable."
Another rally will take place this evening at 7:00 p.m. at Forbes Ave. and Bigelow Blvd. in Oakland.
Post written by Lissa Brennan
As we waited for the audience to troop into Carnegie Music Hall for the live performance of Green Porno on Friday, Isabella Rossellini's famously gorgeous face could be seen repeatedly popping out from behind the curtain.
Combining video clips from the Sundance Channel series about animal sex that she wrote, directed and starred in with a spoken performance somewhere between lecture and storytelling, Green Porno was an hour of solid entertainment from beginning to end.
There were a couple of costume changes, executed onstage. Rossellini had a smattering of props, ranging from exuberant blossoms to paper sea creatures, briefly taken up then unceremoniously discarded, tossed on the floor behind her.
The text and the clips itself could have been performed with another actress, or even actor, as the star, and would still have merited a hearty round of applause. But the standing ovation belonged to Rossellini, who was nothing but enchanting from beginning to end.
Here's my preview of the show for CP, including an interview with Rossellini.
Today the Pittsburgh Penguins and local leaders announced plans to build a new U.S. Steel headquarters on the former Civic Arena site in the lower Hill District. The site will be built with a mix of private and public dollars including $15 million in state funding and unknown local contributions from taxpayers.
Developers are expected to break ground on the 268,000 square-foot site as early as August 2015 and complete the five-story building in September 2017. The building will also feature retail space and a steel museum.
Development of the 28-acre site has been a point of contention between the Pittsburgh Penguins and some Hill District residents who want development on the site to benefit their neighborhood. While Hill District Councilman Daniel Lavelle, says he hasn't talked to members of the community about the U.S. Steel development, he's confident it will lead to dividends for his constituents.
"I have not spoken with the community as a whole," says Lavelle. "But this is going to kick-start the revitalization we have planned for the Hill."
While officials did not provide information on how much the project would cost, or how much the city's contribution would be, the mayor's office says upwards of $3 million could go toward developing the Hill District as a result of the U.S. Steel construction.
The new headquarters will utilize the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Act District tax abatement program. According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the program "was created to improve the economic and business climate of certain residential and commercial districts by lessening the tax burden on new development."
"One of the beautiful things about this development is half of the tax abatement program that's being used to build this building will be spent to rebuild the middle Hill," said Mayor Bill Peduto, "and to reconnect the community back to the center core of the city in a way that will provide affordable housing, job training and other types of amenities that the community will be looking for."
The City Planning Commission has yet to approve the Penguins' development plan for the 28-acre site. Last week, Hill District residents filled the public hearing on the plan, many of them there to call for greater affordable housing in the development proposal.
The ole Artworks is not known as a comedy venue — indeed this storefront space, though an underground standby, is not known to the vast majority of Pittsburghers as a venue of any sort. That was a subplot of last Friday’s show, which included a nice set by the nationally known sociopolitical comic as well as an unnannounced guest spot by Wyatt Cenac.
Now, ironically, while the rest of Penn continues to blossom, the Artworks is preparing to close its doors in early December. These days it’s got some cobwebs, it’s got books and records piled up front garage-sale style, and right in the middle of the space there’s a big, sprawling stack of something (furniture?) shrouded in tarps.
That all was fodder for Bell, late of the FX/FXX show Totally Biased with Kamau Bell and critically acclaimed for his sharp humor about racism and gender politics. He ad-libbed “so it’s come to this” jokes about the venue to complement bits about things like being mistaken for Questlove — “Apparently there’s only allowed to be one nappy-haired black man in America at a time” — and being father to two mixed-race daughters.
Here’s CP’s preview Q&A with Bell.
A nice surprise, after a solid set by local comic Jordan Weeks, was Cenac’s appearance. Cenac, in town for a late-night show across town at Club Café, stopped in to warm up for his buddy Bell. Highlights of Cenac’s set included a bit on American attitudes toward soccer.
Americans hate soccer so much, he said, that they gave it a “slave name.”
“Your name is soccer.”
“But my name is football.”
Makes whipcrack sound. “Your name is soccer!”
Here’s our preview Q&A with Cenac.
The evening also included a clever set by Bell’s touring buddy, Zach Sherwin. Both of them stuck around after the show, when some of the patrons who had clearly never been to the Artworks before (which I’d guess included at least half of the crowd of about 70) kept commiserating with the two comics about having to play such an inelegant joint. Sherwin seemed to appreciate it, though, when I shared a little of the Artworks’ role in Pittsburgh culture.