This is a personal invitation for you all to attend "The Pittsburgh Gathering". Let us gather to come up with real SOLUTIONS and IMPLEMENTATION strategies. What ACTIONS are we going to take in the next 30 days?
What is the Gathering?
The Gathering is a National movement for coordination to engage organizations in a common covenant for justice and ending child incarceration. It was founded by actor/activist Harry Belafonte in 2005 after he witnessed police officers called in by school administrators
put handcuffs on 5-year-old Ja'eisha Scott's wrists and ankles after a half-hour temper tantrum and took the 40-pound girl to the local police
station before releasing her to her mother. Mr. Belafonte realized that collective action on a national basis is required to stop child
incarceration and challenge the immoral process which perpetuates an unjust justice system.
Since this watershed moment, there have been 6 Gatherings over the past year and half. Collectively over 1,000 youth and 200 elders have come together and declared their commitment to this mobilization. The Gatherings have also been about bridging the gap between communities and
different ethnic groups. Gatherings have been hosted by the Latino community in Santa Cruz, the Native American community at Onondaga Nation, the Caucasian Community in Appalachia, the Asian Community in Orange County as well as the Black community in Epps, Alabama. It's about bringing awareness to each of our communities. One HOOD has been involved in the Gathering from the first Gathering of the Youth in Epps, Alabama. It is because of One HOOD's participation and commitment to improving the lives of the youth in our communities that we have been asked coordinate the Pittsburgh Regional Gathering.
The Pittsburgh Regional Gathering is a collaboration between various organizations who desire to see Pittsburgh be a more livable city for all its residents especially the youth. The Organizations involved include One HOOD, PIIN, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary's Metro Urban
Institute, Potter's House Ministries, Voices Against Violence, Darkins Communications, Mental Health Association-Allegheny County, You Sister's
Project, Bethesda Presbyterian Church, Thomas Merton Center, Millions More Movement of Southwest PA, The BlackWatch Movement, Brotha Ash
Productions, The League of Young Voters, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Disciples of the Village and the United Christian Hip-Hop Coalition.
The Pittsburgh Regional Gathering will begin on August 3, 2007, at 7:00pm with a kickoff concert at the Shadow Lounge in East Liberty featuring conscious Hip-Hop artist Wise Intelligent from Poor Righteous Teachers, as well as powerful and positive Hip-Hop artists from Pittsburgh. We want to show our youth we can have fun in a safe
environment with positive music.
On Saturday August 4, 2007, at 9:00am there will be a conference centering on how we can effectively come together to provide and
implement solutions to save the youth of our communities that are dieing daily. This conference will be hosted by the Metro Urban Institute and
will take place at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Panels will be conducted and discussions will focus on the areas of Economics, Politics, Education, the Role of the Church, and the Role of Pop Culture/Media. Our Keynote Speaker will be Fred Hampton Jr. and we will have words of encouragement from Mumia Abu-Jamal. We will also have a panel highlighting injustices that have taken place in Pittsburgh and attorneys will provide guidance on how best to proceed when an injustice happens to you.
On Sunday, August 5 2007, we are calling on the faith community, be they Christians, Jews, Muslims or Other, to hold their services outside in
the community. Our youth need to see more people of faith in the community encouraging righteous and moral conduct. At 3:00pm we will have a interfaith community dialogue at the historic Bethesda Presbyterian Church in Homewood then proceed to walk through the community in a show of unity under God.
We still seeking organizations and individuals who would like to help us make the Pittsburgh Regional Gathering a reality. We also extend a special invitation to all of our elders for their participation. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more
information or log on to our websites:
In the past few weeks the members of the One HOOD Coalition left no stone un-turned while seeking justice for Pamela Lawton and her children. We reached out to the Mayor, the Govenor, Senators, members of the City Council, and even a future Presidential candidate. We have also reached out to Pastors, Ministers, Reverends, Imams, Elders and Community Leaders and everyone within ear-shot of us probably still has a ringing in the ear closest to where we were standing.
We have demanded that elected officials be accountable to the people who vote for them and have asked them to have the testicular fortitude to step up and challenge a system of justice that is unjust and is attempting to criminalize our youth and railroad a mother who is seeking justice.
It all stems from a case of police oppression that occurred on August 26th, 2006 when Officer Eric Tatusko stopped Pamela Lawton and a van full of children, pulled his gun out, turned off his radio, cocked back the slide of his weapon and threatened to blow a 7 year old little girls brains out if she continued to move around and make noise.
Well Mr. Officer, we are not done making noise! We will continue to keep the pressure on.
On Friday The 13th, 2006 Ms. Lawton was treated like a criminal by being finger printed and photographed, she has had to appear in court again as she is still facing charges of Disorderly Conduct for yelling for help.
I asked sister Pam how she felt being finger-printed:
"I felt degraded, hurt and embarrased because I'm telling the children in the community and at the Shuman Center to obey God, the laws of the land and to get thier education, I tell them to pay attention to the instructions of thier teachers and family. And there I was being finger-printed like a criminal".
"I feel violated because of what that man did this to us, everytime I look across the table at my children I feel like they are still being terrorised and I can't protect them. I couldn't protect my own children from a man who is sworn to protect and to serve us, he has authority and took control over my children after taking it away from me" - Pamela Lawton
On October 24th, the Pittsburgh Civilian Police Review Board authorized a full scale investigation into The Lawton case.
At 7:45 the next morning (October 25th, 2006), Pamela Lawton's supporters braved the winter cold and crowded the Municipal Court Building in the Shadows of The Allegheny County Jail downtown Pittsburgh, PA.
When Pamela Lawton's name was called, nearly everyone in the room stood, approached the bench and stood behind Ms. Lawton and her Attorney Joe Williams. It was a powerfull showing of support that took the entire court by surprise.
In a questionable showing of respect for her peers, an obviously irritated Judge Katleen Bubash went against her own better judgement to throw the case out and allowed a postponement of the case until Nov. 30th, 2006 at 8:00 A.M. at the same Municipal Court Building on 1st ave. (downtown Pittsburgh).
She told us of an tacit (implied) agreement between the court, the DA and police bureau that she and her fellow judges honor, to allow postponements in cases where the police are not actually ready to prosecute. She acknowledged that this was a special case, but she would not treat this case any different than she does any other, in spite of the fact that she was angry that the DA and police were not ready to procede at the moment.
"For judges to have an implied agreement with the police, but no agreements spoken or unspoken with citizens, shows that the justice system is not blind and is biased against regular everyday people". - Minister Jasiri X
"They think that by delaying the case, we are going to give up or ease back. That's not going to happen. It's a state of emergency when our children are put at risk, we are going to continue to pack the courtrooms no matter how many times we have to do it until we see justice done. That's how much we support Ms. Lawton and her children". - Reverend Cornell Jones
"The wheels of justice roll oh so slowly at times. One of those times was October 25, 2006 when so many of us assembled to support our sister, Pamela Lawton. Unfortunately the legal system allows people like sister Lawton to be jerked around. I believe that the judge made the decision which she thought was appropriate, based on past practices of allowing the DA's office to ask for a continuance. The ruling did nothing to allay the fears, frustrations and outright pain being experienced by Pamela Lawton. This is why we CANNOT allow the system to intimidate us, to slow us down or to beat us. Let us rise up and make certain that at least as many people are present on Thursday, November 30th at 8 am, as were present on October 25th. We cannot allow those who are not our partners in justice to just "wait us out!!" - Tim Stevens
We demand that these bogus charges be dropped. We challenge the new "Police Chief Elect" Nate Harper to do the right thing also. Sir, if you truely want to help mend the relationship between the black community and the police dept. we ask that you begin by being a true agent for justice and get the charges against Pamela Lawton dropped immediately. Also suspend Officer Eric Tatusko pending the ongoing investigation, he is a danger to our community and to himself, he should not be allowed to patrol our community with a loaded weapon until it is proven that he is stable and in control of himself. We do not need "a token of racial diversity" Mr. Harper, We demand Justice! Don't tell us about justice, Show us.
Pamela Lawton is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 30th, 2006 at 8:00 A.M. We are calling for everyone who can get to the court to be there 15 minutes early. If you are thinking that you cannot make a difference, you should think again. We should all internalize this situation, you should treat it as if it were YOUR child, YOUR wife or YOU. If you live in the Pittsburgh area there is "NO EXCUSE" that is good enough that you should miss this court date! (Unless of course you are in a coma or ill).
Reverend Cornell Jones commented: "We will organize a Mini-Million Man March and walk up in there that deep if we have to".
Make no mistake about it, We have to.
Please continue to call and email Pittsburgh's Elected Officials and demand that the charges against Pamela Lawton be dropped:
Mayor's Office Room 512
414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Acting Director of the Public Safey Department
100 Grant St Room 732
Pittsburgh, Pa 15219
Police Chief Elect Nate Harper
1203 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15233
Chairman of the Public Safety Services Committee
Suite 510/Floor 5
414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219