PITTSBURGH - Hundreds of high school and college students walked out of classes Monday to protest the not guilty verdict in the Michael Rosfeld trial.
A crowd gathered outside the Pittsburgh City-County Building before walking through the city’s streets, also stopping outside the Allegheny County Courthouse, where Rosfeld was acquitted Friday night in the shooting death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose, and the Allegheny County Jail.
Students carried signs and shouted chants in support of Rose, who was running from a traffic stop when he was shot.
Pittsburgh Public Safety officials stayed close, closing roads as needed to accommodate the march
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On Sunday, Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet released a statement regarding the protest. He said while the district understands that students want to support protesters, they do not support students leaving during the day.
The district said students must have parent permission to participate in any demonstrations or they will receive an unexcused tardy or absence.
You can read the full statement below:
Friday evening a jury found former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld not guilty on all counts in the shooting death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose II. We may not all process Antwon’s death and the outcome of this case the same way, but we can all agree that any student who is affected by these events deserves to feel safe and supported by our school community. It is our responsibility to work together to manage our personal feelings and reactions to focus on the impact this has had on our students.
We understand that many students will want to support those fighting for Justice for Antwon. We are aware of students’ plans to protest the jury’s decision. We respect the right of all students to lawfully and peacefully protest, and we take seriously our responsibility to keep all students safe and secure. School leaders have been encouraged to work with student leaders to develop a plan that ensures students are safe while participating in any demonstrations. It is essential that our Office of School Safety and school staff are prepared to support procedures for safe student protests on school campuses.
In keeping with our priority to keep students safe, the District does not support students leaving school during the day to enter an unpredictable and potentially hazardous scene. Students must have parent permission to participate in demonstrations and follow the District’s early dismissal procedures. Any student who leaves school without parent/guardian permission will receive an unexcused tardy or absence as appropriate.
The District has coordinated support centrally to assist schools with difficult conversations that may arise with students as a result of the outcome of the jury’s decision. The District is additionally prepared to provide increased support through our Student Assistance Program for students who need it.
It is critical that we help our students find their voice during this challenging time. We know that the death of Antwon Rose, the jury’s decision, the reactions of the community, and coverage in the news media can be confusing, and at times frightening for our young people – many of who see themselves, family members and friends in Antwon. 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. We are committed to this charge.
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