It was a crowd mostly comprised of students that had walked out of class and took to the rainy streets of downtown Pittsburgh today to protest the Friday acquittal of former police officer Michael Rosfeld in the shooting death of Antwon Rose II.
“Three shots in the back, how do you justify that?” was the rallying cry of the crowd of roughly 1,000 protesters, which was by far the largest demonstration yet after a weekend of protests across the city, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Rosfeld shot the unarmed 17-year-old three times as he attempted to flee a felony traffic stop at 8:40 p.m. on June 19, 2018. Thirteen minutes before the shooting Rose had been in a car implicated in a drive-by shooting.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Rosfeld’s trial lasted four days and included 23 witness and hundreds of exhibits. It was revealed in testimony that it took the officer 0.994th of a second to fire the three shots that killed Rose.
The jury had three options were they to find the shooting unjustifiable: first-degree murder, third-degree murder, or voluntary manslaughter.
It took them four hours to find Rosfeld not guilty on all charges.
Students filling in Grant Street in front of Allegheny County Courthouse. More arriving by the minute. pic.twitter.com/Pk1Qy2mlM7
— Pittsburgh City Paper (@PGHCityPaper) March 25, 2019
Similar to the smaller demonstrations over the weekend, the student protesters today were vocally expressing their dissatisfaction with Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., who handled the unsuccessful prosecution.
Throughout the day, chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, Stephen Zappala has got to go” and “Vote him out” could be heard in the streets of downtown Pittsburgh, according to the Post-Gazette.
A crowd that fills the block on Grant street outside of the county courthouse is chanting “Justice. Shut it down.” More students are joining with “Three shots in the back, how do you justify that?” Some are passing out roses and signs. pic.twitter.com/i3LPRLfB5Y
— Sarah Schneider (@sarahschni) March 25, 2019
Rebecca Rovins, an undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, organized the rally, bringing together students from more than a dozen schools.
She issued a statement prior to the demonstration according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“It is only through solidarity between students and teachers, youth and workers, and through uniting the struggles of all oppressed people that we can build a movement to build a better Pittsburgh.”
Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools Anthony Hamlet required students leaving school to participate in the walkouts to have permission from their parents and follow the district’s early dismissal procedures.
Hamlet told The Inquirer that this is a confusing and frightening time for Pittsburgh’s youth due to 17-year-old Rose’s death, the community’s outrage, and coverage in the news media.
“Many of whom see themselves, family members, and friends in Antwon.”
He continued, “It is our responsibility to process this moment with our students in a way that honors not only their emotions but their abilities to impact change in our community.”
According to Ballotpedia, Stephen Zappala is the Democratic Allegheny County District Attorney in Pennsylvania. Zappala is running in the democratic primary on May 21, 2019. The general election is November 5, 2019.
Zappala was a candidate in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania Attorney General on April 26, 2016. He was defeated by Josh Shapiro.