Summer Lee on attending Antwon Rose protests: ‘We need to be able to speak for ourselves’
A Democratic nominee for state House handed out voter registration forms Thursday night as hundreds of people around her on the Parkway East protested the police shooting of Antwon Rose.
Summer Lee says she wasn't trying to make political hay of tragedy.
“We need to be able to speak for ourselves,” said Lee. “We don't need a middle man to speak for us.”
Lee beat out Democratic incumbent Paul Costa for a seat in the State House. Her district includes Wilkins Township along with the boroughs of Braddock, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, Churchill, Edgewood, Forest Hills, North Braddock, Rankin, Swissvale and Turtle Creek — all of which are included within the boundaries of the Woodland Hills School District, where Antwon Rose was a student.
East Pittsburgh, where the shooting of Rose took place, is not in the 34th House District; but, students who live there also attend Woodland Hills, Lee's alma mater. She graduated from the high school in 2005.
“I don't care so much about the geopolitical boundaries,” Lee said, adding that just because East Pittsburgh isn't in her legislative district doesn't mean her constituents, neighbors and community members aren't impacted. It's for that reason she said she attended rallies and protests Wednesday and Thursday, and that she plans to make herself available to any organizations that need her support moving forward.
Rose was shot and killed Tuesday night after police pulled over a car in which the 17-year-old from Rankin was a passenger because they suspected it was involved in an earlier shooting in North Braddock. Rose, a Woodland Hills High School honor student, was shot by Officer Michael Rosfeld as he ran from the car.
Lee also ended up serving as a liaison between police and protesters gathered on the parkway Thursday night.
“I wanted to make sure that they had space to express themselves and have their voices being heard, but also not being threatened,” she said. She said that though she was grateful that the protest remained peaceful, she hopes that police take opportunities — like an hourslong standoff with protesters — to fix what Lee described as broken relationships with the communities police serve.
“Kids who were passionately screaming — they knew what they were talking about,” Lee said of the youngest protesters Thursday night. “How are they going to fix it with these kids?”
Lee also had a message for her peers in the state Legislature.
“Be with your people,” she said, encouraging lawmakers to meet and talk with constituents outside of election season.
“The legislature has a job to protect these children and communities,” she said.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer.