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CP Photo: Jamie Wiggan
Leon Ford and Scott Schubert at the Heal America launch event on Wed., June 22, 2022.
A decade after he was shot by police, Leon Ford hopes to prompt new conversations about public safety by donating the clothes he wore that night to the Senator John Heinz History Center
Ford was pulled over on Nov. 11, 2012 for a routine traffic stop but left the scene gravely wounded after taking four bullets to the chest
and, since then, has never regained the use of his legs. After suing the city, he received a $5 million settlement in 2018.
Since being shot, Ford has become a strong advocate for police reform.
Much of Ford's initial advocacy was highly critical of police, but he recently launched a nonprofit initiative to foster better working relationships between law enforcement and the public at large. The Hear Foundation
was inaugurated in June with an initial $75,000 grant from Heal America.
Ford says he hopes the clothes can showcase his pain while reminding the public of the need for more reform and healing.
"While it is a symbol of a trauma experience that has occurred and where we were as a divided city 10 years ago, it also represents the healing, redemption and reconciliation that is possible and is already transpiring here," Ford said Friday, according to a press release. "There is still so much to be done, but we have begun the work, and by choosing to listen to one another, we will build a safer, stronger city for everyone.”
Ford's clothes have been added to in the museum's African American Collection, a component of its broader African American Program. According to a release, the program is "dedicated to the preservation, dissemination, and interpretation of the life, history, and culture of Africans and African Americans in Western Pennsylvania."
Andy Masich, president and CEO of the History Center, says he welcomes the donation.
“The History Center’s exhibitions and collections chronicle the African American experience in Pittsburgh, and this is an important chapter in that story,” said Masich. “As a Smithsonian Affiliate and Pittsburgh’s people museum, we value this collection and partnership with The Hear Foundation.”