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Hate crime charges called for in North Shore stabbing death | TribLIVE.com
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Hate crime charges called for in North Shore stabbing death

Tribune-Review
| Tuesday, August 21, 2018 2:30 p.m.
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Pittsburgh Police said charges are pending against Joden Rocco in connection with the incident Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, outside of a bar in the North Shore.
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Dulane Cameron Jr.

Activists are calling for the stabbing death of Dulane Cameron Jr. on Pittsburgh’s North Shore to be investigated as a hate crime after photos came to light purporting to show racist and white supremacist remarks on the suspect’s Facebook page.

Joden Rocco, 24, is charged with homicide in the early Sunday morning stabbing that left Cameron, 24, dead on the sidewalk outside the bar Tequila Cowboy.

Members of the grassroots group Partners in Justice — who dedicate their free time to combing social media for individuals who publicly make racist remarks and alerting their employers – say they believe the killing was racially motivated.

Screenshots allegedly taken from Rocco’s personal Facebook page appear to show white supremacist and racist remarks. Amanda McCreery of Johnstown said she didn’t know Cameron but started a petition calling on Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. to investigate the incident as a hate crime. The petition garnered more than 850 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.

Mike Manko, spokesman for Zappala’s office, said they are aware of Rocco’s social media posts and the investigation is ongoing.

“We are certainly aware of some of the attitudes, opinions and positions that the defendant has posited, but we have not made a decision as to whether or not additional charges are warranted,” Manko said.

Pittsburgh police wrote in the criminal complaint against Rocco that security footage showed Rocco – who was shirtless and “appearing to be very aggressive” — attack Cameron, who is black, and a friend after he was denied entry to the bar.

Cameron and a friend were seen walking toward Rocco when “ all of a sudden, Rocco begins attacking them ,” according to the complaint.

The Partners in Justice group formed in the aftermath of the June 19 police shooting of Antwon Rose II as he ran, unarmed, from a felony traffic stop in East Pittsburgh. What started as calling out racist remarks on social media has evolved into a movement that has led to the firing of a several people by their employers.

Creators Ashely Palmer and George Allen III have several thousand Facebook followers among their various profiles and pages, some of which have been shut down after being reported to Facebook as hate speech and bullying.

Palmer said she started receiving messages about Rocco’s alleged Facebook activity soon after his arrest.

“There were a ton of screenshots, and we perceived it as a hate crime based on those screenshots,” she said. “We would love for (Zappala) to look into this matter as a hate crime given the many documented comments online regarding (Rocco’s) hatred for people who do not share the same skin tone as his.”

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Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

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