Identity & Justice

The identity and justice desk explores how the makeup of the Pittsburgh community is changing, and digs into issues of diversity and equity.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Police say a "person of interest" in the fatal shooting of an off-duty Pittsburgh police officer is in custody.

MANEL BALCE CENETA / AP

A group of Carnegie Mellon psychiatrists and psychologists is urging Pennsylvania leaders to close a controversial detention center for immigrant families, because they say it is damaging the physical and mental health of the children who are held there.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Philadelphia Police Department is suspending 13 officers with an intent to fire them following an investigation into offensive and sometimes threatening Facebook posts.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Housing is a main priority for Homewood residents. In a city short 17,000 affordable units, neighborhood activists are acutely aware of the need for low-income housing options. But in many new buildings that accept federal subsidies, formerly incarcerated individuals are barred from renting. 

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner says the death penalty violates Pennsylvania’s constitution and he’s calling for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to outlaw it.

Krasner filed a motion arguing the state has used the death penalty arbitrarily — thus violating protections against cruel punishments.

He says ineffective counsel for poor defendants has led to bad decisions that were later overturned, especially in Philadelphia. His office reviewed cases from 1978 through 2017.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh police confirm an off-duty officer critically wounded in a street shooting over the weekend has died of his injuries.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A periwinkle frog with geometric markings crouches in a sea of red, its toes splayed out as it prepares to leap. The painting now hangs in Dwayne Drummond’s Homewood apartment. But he remembers when he found it in somebody else’s trash.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A house stands quietly on Homewood’s Monticello Street. All the windows are boarded up. Shingles pop off the eaves. And if you look closely, you can see graffiti beneath a fading layer of white paint. The graffitti is blue, the signature color of the Crips gang.

Tim Ogawa / CISV International

A summer camp that promotes international cooperation convened in Pittsburgh for the first time this year. The Seminar camp was founded after World War II, and this session focused on conflict resolution.

Pittsburgh Public Schools Photographs / Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center

Homewood was founded by Pittsburgh’s wealthiest families, but it eventually became one of the city’s poorest and most racially segregated neighborhoods.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s police department had 84 police recruits last year, and according to a yearly statistical report released last week,  only four of them were black. That’s less than 5 percent of the class, in a city where African Americans make up roughly one-quarter of the population.

Michael Santiago / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On today’s program: The Post-Gazette explores the ways child poverty affects Western Pennsylvania communities; how Anthrocon and its larger furry community can help people with autism; and the latest from Harrisburg over plans to pay for new, more secure voting machines in time for 2020. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On today’s program: The United Way of Southwestern PA gets new leadership; an improv comedy group helps people with Down Syndrome; Retire Your Unserviceable Old Glory honors torn, tattered or faded American flags; and everything you need to know about local politics headed into Independence Day. *The Confluence will return after the holiday on Monday, July 8.

Courtesy of Laticia El

Gov. Tom Wolf has commuted the sentence of the brother of prize-winning author John Edgar Wideman in a 1975 killing, clearing the way for his release.

Illustration by Christina Lee, text and data by Oliver Morrison / PublicSource

On today’s program: An update on the MRSA outbreak at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh; the director of physician services at Gateway Rehab discusses last year’s drop in fatal opioid overdoses; a deep dive on the pros and cons of ozone; and how low-wage jobs compound challenges for Pennsylvania workers.

UPMC Childrens’ MRSA Outbreak infects patients and staff 
(0:00 – 05:44)

Marie Miclot / Grappling Fight Team Pittsburgh/True Believer

On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, which began the movement for LGBTQ equality, local trainers will host a self-defense class for people who identify across the spectrum. 

Carolyn Kaster / AP

The Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is suing state police for, it says, illegally turning drivers over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Historic PA Law To Automatically Seal Millions Of Criminal Charges Starting Friday

Jun 27, 2019
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Forty million.

That’s the number of criminal charges in Pennsylvania that will be eligible for automatic sealing when the second phase of the state’s Clean Slate law kicks in Friday. 

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

On today’s program: What the new UPMC and Highmark agreement means for patients; a Pittsburgh author releases his debut novel; Aliquippa is using a federal grant to improve access to fresh food downtown; and a terrorism expert explores how counter-terrorism has evolved. 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The man accused of plotting to bomb a North Side church made his first appearance in federal court Friday morning. After hearing testimony from an FBI agent, federal Magistrate Judge Cynthia Eddy found there was probable cause to keep Mustafa Mousab Alowemer behind bars.

AP

One year ago, Michael Rosfeld, a white East Pittsburgh police officer, fatally shot Antwon Rose, a black unarmed teenager. In the immediate aftermath, many blamed local officials for Rosfeld’s actions and called for the small borough to make big changes.

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

A Syrian refugee who came to the U.S. three years ago plotted to bomb a church this spring to inspire followers of the Islamic State of Iraq, federal authorities said in announcing the man's arrest Wednesday. 

Senate Vote Puts Victims' Rights Amendment Before Voters

Jun 19, 2019
Bret Hartman / AP Images for Marsy'sLawForAll.org

Pennsylvania voters will decide whether to enumerate victims' rights in the state constitution, a proposal likely to appear on the November ballot.

The state Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to give its final approval, putting the state's version of Marcy's Law on the ballot as a constitutional amendment referendum.

JOHN FETTERMAN FOR LT. GOVERNOR / AP

It has been one year since Antwon Rose, a black, unarmed teenager, was fatally shot by white police officer Michael Rosfeld. Rosfeld fired at the teen as he fled a car that had been involved in a drive-by shooting.

Scott Finger / U.S. Army War College Photo Lab

The remains of Native American children who died while attending school in the midstate more than a century ago will soon be returned to their surviving family members.

Man Says He Abused 16 to 18 People, Now Wants Identity Shielded

Jun 14, 2019
Carolyn Kaster / AP

A man who told a grand jury investigating child sex abuse that he had victimized 16 to 18 people, but who couldn't be prosecuted because the cases were too old, is now seeking to keep his name and any other identifying information from being made public.

Details of the 2018 investigation and the man's testimony were disclosed this week when the state Supreme Court unsealed documents in the dispute over the grand jury's yet-to-be-released report, with any information that could identify the man blacked out.

Julio Cortez / AP

A Pennsylvania court has ruled that an evolving legal landscape means a woman can pursue her lawsuit claiming officials in the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese worked to conceal her alleged molestation by a priest. 

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

The Catholic Church spent more on lobbying efforts in Pennsylvania than in seven other northeastern U.S. states combined, according to a recent report covering 2011-2018.

The analysis, called “Church Influencing State: How the Catholic Church Spent Millions Against Survivors of Clergy Abuse,” draws a connection between lobbying expenditures and inaction on proposals that give victims of sexual abuse more chances to sue.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Fifty years ago police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar frequented by LGBTQ clientele in New York City. Those inside, led by transgender women of color tired of harassment and oppression, fought back. 

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Atop Mount Washington, in the sprawling Chatham Village community, is a large brick home with large windows and spacious balconies. Chatham Village resident, architect and amateur historian David Vater said it used to be known as the Bigham House, and was the residence of abolishionist lawyer Thomas Bigham. It was also a stop on the Underground Railroad.

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