By Alex Meins
Last Friday night, a jury found police officer Michael Rosfeld not guilty in the murder of Antwon Rose Jr, an unarmed 17-year old who Rosfeld shot three times in the back on June 19, 2018. That same night, the law office of Rosfeld’s defense attorney Patrick Thomassey was riddled with bullets while hundreds took to the streets in the black neighborhood of East Liberty.
During the march, demonstrators entered several gentrifier establishments, including the Indigo Hotel, the Ace Hotel, Mad Mex, and the Lorelai bar, chanting anti-gentrification slogans and drawing a link between gentrification and police violence and repression against the oppressed.
Demonstrators threw over trash cans, chanted “Fuck 12” and “Three shots in the back, how do you justify that?” Liberal organizers tried to discourage chants of “Fuck the police” and “Fuck pigs” as they had been during the first protests following Rose’s murder in the summer of 2018.
Defying this liberal censorship, the people screamed at the lines of riot police and one woman asked, “When can we wreck shit?” to which the liberal organizers timidly replied, “Not here.”
At one point during the protest, a black woman confronted a line of police outside a church and, against the wishes of the rebellion-quashing liberals and NGO activists, this woman led a break-away march into the Larimer neighborhood which ended by returning to the church.
This recent outrage builds on the uprising of June 2018, when demonstrators blocked highways in protest against Rose’s murder. At these road blockades, multiple right-wing vigilante terrorists drove their cars through the protestors, resulting in some minor injuries. Serve the People-Pittsburgh had advocated for the use of hand-held weapons in the front lines of the blockades to deter and defend against car attacks.
During one 2018 highway blockade in East Pittsburgh, hand-held weapons were used to punish a vigilante who drove his car into protestors. Flag poles with red flags were used to bash the vigilante’s car and crack his windows, forcing the police to arrest the right-winger for his own safety.
From the time of Rose’s murder to his killer’s acquittal, the Alliance for Police Accountability and other liberal groups have worked to channel the rebellious energy of the masses into toothless, do-nothing reforms like a county-wide “Citizen’s Police Review Board.” The city’s police review board has resulted in zero charges against police officers since its inception following the police murder of Jonny Gammage on October 12, 1995 in the Brentwood suburb of Pittsburgh.
These review boards do not serve the working class, nor do they protect them from police brutality. Their function is to conceal the continued use of state repression behind a veneer of accountability. These boards perpetuate the lie that the police serve the people and are answerable to them. In reality, the police only serve the ruling class, and they do so by cracking down on the oppressed and exploited masses.
Rosfeld had worked for the University of Pittsburgh Police from 2012 to 2018 when he was ejected from the department for making undue arrests. He murdered Antwon Rose Jr. the same day he was sworn into the East Pittsburgh police department.
Killer cops like Rosfeld will keep walking away from their crimes against the people until black people are organized by the reconstituted Communist Party to carry out people’s war for national liberation. This necessarily means going against the old-state, its reformers and collaborators as well as revisionists within the mass movement.
The protests in wake of the verdict continued over the weekend in multiple neighborhoods and will likely continue into next week. Incendiary stands in solidarity with those who dare to rebel against the police and all their collaborators.