All the Pittsburgh news you missed this week (April 26 - May 3) | Pittsburgh City Paper

All the Pittsburgh news you missed this week (April 26 - May 3)

House Democrats advance progressive bills, Starbucks on strike, Tree of Life trial underway

click to enlarge All the Pittsburgh news you missed this week (April 26 - May 3)
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
A candlelight vigil for Jim Rogers takes place in Friendship on October 13, 2022.

SOCIAL JUSTICE: Rogers settlement

The City of Pittsburgh will pay $8 million to settle a civil lawsuit filed by the family of Jim Rogers, a Black man who was tased to death by police in October 2021. According to an internal investigation, after being tased repeatedly, Rogers pleaded for medical attention for 17 minutes and police and EMTs ignored him. Five police officers involved in Rogers’ death were terminated in March 2022 and three were reportedly disciplined. The terminated officers have reportedly appealed the decision and are seeking reinstatement. A lawyer for Rogers’ family claimed this settlement is the largest the City of Pittsburgh has ever offered in a civil rights case.

click to enlarge All the Pittsburgh news you missed this week (April 26 - May 3)
CP Illustration: Lucy Chen

UNION: Starbucks strike

Unionized Starbucks workers at four local stores staged a strike on Thu., April 27 to protest what they say is the company’s refusal to participate in good faith in contract negotiations. The one-day strike came just days after the National Labor Relations Board alleged in a formal complaint that Starbucks “failed and refused” to bargain fairly at 144 of its stores. Last month, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told Congress the company is committed to engaging in good faith with unionized stores.

POLITICS: House Dems push progressive bills

Pennsylvania House Democrats are marshaling their new majority to advance progressive bills on LGBTQ rights, gun control, and workplace safety.

Among the slate of bills pushed forward by committees last week is a proposed amendment to the state’s non-discrimination laws that would give explicit protections to LGBTQ against threats of workplace or housing discrimination. The policy, if adopted, would codify at the state level a 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling applying gender-based nondiscrimination policies to the LGBTQ community.

Also sent to the floor was a series of bills calling for mandatory background checks for gun purchases, requirements to report lost or stolen guns, and a so-called “red flag” law that would allow for the temporary seizure of firearms where families or police report imminent danger.

Another bill advanced by House Democrats would establish a board for overseeing public sector workplaces that could issue fines of up to $10,000 for reported violations.

House Republicans objected to each of these bills, but Democrats may push them through if every member holds the party line. However, despite Democrats’ slim majority in the lower chamber, Republicans still hold the Senate, which is unlikely to sign any of the reformist bills into law.

click to enlarge All the Pittsburgh news you missed this week (April 26 - May 3)
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Two women hug at the Star of David memorials in front of the Tree of Life Synagogue on Oct. 29, 2018.

NEWS: Tree of Life Trial

During the first week of the criminal trial of Robert Bowers, 81 prospective jurors have been interviewed, 27 have been deemed eligible, and none have been seated. Bowers, 50, is accused of killing 11 worshipers in a mass shooting at the Tree of Life — or L'Simcha — synagogue building in October 2018.

Because the government is seeking the death penalty against Bowers, who faces 63 federal charges, potential jurors who admit to having strong opinions on the death penalty are likely to be deemed ineligible, Paula Reed Ward of TribLive reports. Jury selection is expected to last several weeks and the trial to run through July.

Hands off Rafah protest in East Liberty
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Hands off Rafah protest in East Liberty

By Mars Johnson