WE WILL NEVER FORGET
NO JUSTICE! NO PEACE!
Friday November 22, 1996
Students throughout the Pittsburgh area walked out of classes around 10:00am.
The student movement was organized in part by the "Mobilization of African Students for Justice", a group formed in response to the acquittal of Brentwood Officer John Vojtas last week.
Pittsburgh Public School spokeswoman Pat Crawford said that 2,870 students left classes according to the records of the district. Other equally impressive numbers were recorded at the Wilkinsburg area high school where 486 of the district's 1,400 students left classes.
So where did several thousand students go after marching out of their classes? Not home but Downtown.
The students were Downtown not to get a jump on the holiday shopping frenzy but instead to encourage one another to boycott the stores and the holidays until resolves are reached and justice is served.
Shortly before noon a long stream of concerned youths marched from Freedom Corner outside of the NAACP in Hill District to the City-County building in Downtown to protest among many things the Vojtas verdict.
The students carried signs, many of which read "Welcome to Brentwood, we kill black people" and "Arrest Brutality".
Their outrage at the system that has failed them and their communities was quite visible, unlike in their elders and other factions of in the Pittsburgh area.
Sala Udin a member of the Pittsburgh City council told the students that it was important that they missed the day by walking out of classes and encouraged them to continue doing the correct things.
Unity was the meal on the menu. Youths took the mic in hand and encouraged each other to get together and work on issues rather than continuing to be at odds with each other.
Willie Abrams, a member of the general counsel for the NAACP visited Pittsburgh. Abrams left with a mouthful of acceptance seemingly meant to appease the community.
At a press meeting he said that the prosecutor had selected the correct means by which to approach the case and agreed on such approach. Abrams however did not agree on the outcome reached in the verdict of officer John Vojtas.
At the request of Abrams and the NAACP Pittsburgh Mayor Murphy will send a letter to the U.S. Attorney Janet Reno requesting the investigation of a possible civil rights violation in the death of motorist Jonny Gammage who died after a routine traffic stop.
Deputy Mayor Tom Cox said that Murphy at the request of Abrams was considering a U.S. Justice Department program which sends local experts into communities to help remove tensions between police and residents.
Tim Stevens was re-elected to a second two-year term as President of the Pittsburgh branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
In the most unannounced election anyone can remember Stevens defeated Charles Graham of East Liberty in balloting at the Hill House auditorium.
Graham who is retired questioned in his campaign the amount of time that Stevens could dedicate to his unpaid position as President.
Stevens currently is director of volunteer services at Mayview State Hospital in Bridgeville.
When you think of the Southside of Pittsburgh on a Friday night what comes to mind? The seemingly endless strip of bars though has an interesting neighbor who is open for visitors on Friday night.
Every Friday evening The Pathfinder bookstore located along Carson street offers a forum such as that held this evening which discussed the Jonny Gammage case from the activists' perspective followed by an audience participation section.
Taken up for discussion concerning the Gammage case were the NAACP's handling of the case, racism, discrimination in the workplace and other similar matters brought to light by the case. Speakers included Derba James Bailey of the Campus Coalition for Peace and Justice, Malcolm Jarrett of the Young Socialists and Cornell Womack President of the University of Pittsburgh chapter of Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Audience participation was most fascinating. Unlike other forums I have been to elsewhere a majority of the audience numbering in the 30s had something to share.
I highly recommend visiting the Pathfinder Bookstore located at 1103 E. Carson Street where you will also find a large collection of books including works by Lenin and Malcom X, literature about Cointel Pro and the embargo against Cuba.