Chief Harper: Enough is enough

Pledges to increase proactive approach to violence


Last week’s shooting near Willie Stargell Field during a midget football game in Homewood was the last straw for Pittsburgh Police Chief Nathan Harper. Even before the incident, Harper was fed up with the Black on Black violence in Pittsburgh, but this event gave him one more reason to be concerned, one more reason to say enough is enough.

“To have that type of violence, to have 30 people (witness it) and no one say who the shooter was, and to make it even worse you have all these kids and to have no counselors come out, what is this telling our community? Get used to it. This is the way we live,” Harper said at an exclusive Editorial Board meeting with the New Pittsburgh Courier. “Every parent should be upset that these knuckleheads, these terrorists did this.”

For Harper, violence in predominantly Black neighborhoods is in direct correlation with the breakdown of the Black family. Since the shooting on Aug. 15, he is more focused than ever on taking a proactive stance on violence to mend family values, uplift African-American youth, and improve police/community relations.

Lane Pittsburgh superintendent

First Black female voted to full term

On Dec. 13, former Pittsburgh Public School District Deputy superintendent Linda Lane was voted in as the first African-American female superintendent in the district. Her appointment, which passed with a vote of eight to one, came exactly four years to the day from her initial appointment as deputy superintendent.

Lane follows in the footsteps of Helen Faison who became the first African-American woman to be named acting superintendant in 1999. Her contract extends through the end of the 2014 school year.

Hill District gets Shop ‘n Save

After years of failed negotiations, the Hill House Economic Development Corporation announced July 7 that Shop ‘n Save owner Jeff Ross has signed an agreement to operate a new 29,500 square-foot store in the Hill District.

Despite near triple-digit temperatures, more than 100 Hill residents, corporate and political leaders, and project supporters met on the building site across Centre Avenue from the Hill House to celebrate the news.

Hill House President and CEO Victor Roque said he hopes to break ground in late summer or early fall, and the new store would open by November 2011.

B-PEP, CAPA youths rally for Jordan Miles

Wants officers off the streets

Joined by about 60 CAPA students outside Pittsburgh Council chambers, Black Political Action Project Director Tim Stevens called on Police Chief Nate Harper to reassign officers to desk duty Richard Ewing, David Sisak and Michael Saldutte who beat CAPA senior Jordan Miles during a Jan. 12 arrest outside his home.

Carrying signs and chanting, the students marched from their school on a windy 26-degree day to demand justice for their schoolmate. Stevens thanked them for, what for most, was their first foray into civil activism.

“I cannot fathom how the Pittsburgh Police, could in any reasonable way, defend the beating, stomping, choking and kicking of an unarmed, 5-foot, 7-inch, 150-pound teenager by three armed police officers,” said Stevens. “Simply moving the police officers from their former undercover status to uniform status does not properly handle this very troubling situation. These officers are still on the street to possibly brutalize other innocent, non-suspecting citizens.”

Sanders gives $100K to PIRC

Challenges other businesses to follow suit

Initially, Chuck Sanders said, he wanted to contribute to the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime without any fanfare, but after two gang members contacted him directly to say they were joining the program, he agreed to do it publicly because it might inspire more to come forward.

“My niece Angela was a victim of violence in McKeesport. This is dedicated to her memory,” he said during the July 29 announcement outside Macedonia Baptist Church in the Hill District. “I’m hoping other businesses will step up. I’ve put my money where my mouth is, and I hope others do the same.”

Police Chief raises stakes in response to Homewood shooting

As the Midget League football game at Willie Stargell Field drew to a close on Aug. 15, 20 gunshots rang out within hearing range. The shots were so close in fact, they injured three bystanders as they made their way around the corner from the game.

In response to the shootings, Pittsburgh Police Chief Nathan Harper addressed the nearby residents of Homewood at the very same field the next day. He came with a show of force of close to 30 officers and a threat to shutdown the Allegheny County Midget Football League unless someone in the community came forward with information regarding the perpetrators.

Harper never had to follow through with his threat as a result of two suspects being identified and an emergency meeting with leaders from the league, but his effort might have helped dispel the Homewood community’s long standing “no-snitching” mentality.

Rev. Grayson’s son killed

When Jeron Grayson, 18, returned home from Hampton University over the weekend to visit family and friends, he told his father Rev. Glenn Grayson he wanted to take their church’s community center global. Later that weekend, on Oct. 17, he was killed at a post-homecoming party in an apartment near California University.

“In many ways it’s as if God was preparing me for another level of the ministry. Now we have both sympathy and empathy,” said Rev. Grayson, pastor of Wesley Center AMEZ church in the Hill District. “The only thing that’s holding us is our faith and even with that we go through the typical emotions of grief like questioning God. We believe and know he is with God.”

On Oct. 18 Washington County police arrested Keith Jones, 19, charging him with homicide and aggravated assault in association with the death of Grayson and the injury of two others. According to police, Jones had been denied entry to a party near the California University campus when he opened fire on the apartment.

Possible changes for East End schools in 2011

In late April, the Pittsburgh Public School District released recommendations by the East Region Advisory Committee for changes to Peabody and Westinghouse High Schools. The changes would not go into affect until the 2011-2012 school year and have yet to be approved by the school board.

In keeping with the district-wide trend, the committee recommended the expansion of Westinghouse into grades 6-12. Under the new proposal, students from Peabody would be split into Westinghouse and Milliones University Preparatory School, with the new feeder pattern being drawn along Negley Avenue.

With Peabody vacant, the Barack Obama Academy of International Studies 6-12 would be able to utilize the building. An earlier recommendation by the committee in December 2008 identified the Peabody building as the perfect site for the then unnamed international baccalaureate program.

These recommenda

tions correlate with the eventual phasing out of Schenley High School, which is currently located in the Reizenstein building, by 2011. The relocation of the Obama school would then leave Reizenstein empty.

Pitt to host ­nations’ largest race conference

The City of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work and Center on Race and Social Problems will be the host to one of the largest race relation conferences to ever take place in the country. From June 3-6, the “Race in America: Restructuring Inequality” national conference will take place at various places around the university area.

“My goal was to put on the largest conference on the issue of race. There has never been a large number of scholars and experts on race together in one place at one conference,” said Larry E. Davis, dean and professor of Pitt’s School of Social Work and director of the Center on Race and Social Problems. “We have some of the most prominent scholars in Pittsburgh and the country coming. I would not miss this conference.”

Davis says the Race in America conference is a solution-focused conference, with more than 45 speakers, designed to address race-related problems and disparities that appear in several areas of life. The areas that the conference will focus on are, education, economics, employment, health, criminal justice, intergroup relations, mental health and family and community affairs.

AWC working to right ship

With only a few months left before its one-year anniversary, the August Wilson Center for African American Culture is experiencing some serious economic struggles. In order to right the sinking ship, the Center plans to cut its 2011 budget by 25 percent.

“The potential here is to be the preeminent institution. We’re going to do that by being inclusive. The hard part is done; we’re sitting in the building,” said Executive Director Andre Kimo Stone Guess. “If it weren’t built no one would do it today because on the other side of this recession no one would do it.”The laundry list of problems has included construction costs that totaled $43 million, close to $7 million over the initial budget and last year’s state budget catastrophe that delayed the release of state funding.

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