By Maria DeCoteau
Activists and the family of Jim Rogers held a protest this past Saturday demanding answers and justice in Rogers’ murder by Pittsburgh police in October. Rogers, a 54-year-old homeless Black man, was killed after police officer Keith Edmonds tased him four times, and officers Gregory Boss and Patrick DeSaro attacked Rogers, denying him proper medical attention as he pleaded to be taken to the hospital. Tribune confirmed the identities of Boss and DeSaro Wednesday as the other officers who carried out the attack that killed him.
Following the attack on Rogers, which took place on October 13, the officers drove towards the county jail to book him. Along the way, Rogers went into cardiac arrest, dying the next morning.
Saturday’s protest marched through parts of the Bakery Square area of Pittsburgh, blocking traffic as it traveled through the streets, stopping at times to occupy intersections. Protesters held one intersection where there is a wall with the names of those killed by police across the US, giving speeches about Rogers and denouncing the police. Tribune supporters also distributed the article identifying officer Edmonds as one of Rogers’ killers to drivers and passersby.
Throughout the march, protesters repeatedly chanted, “People’s justice for Jim Rogers!” while a banner printed with the same slogan was held at the front of the marchers. Other chants included, “Keith Edmonds: Enemy of the People!”
Tribune released the names of the officers involved in the murder, however, despite visual confirmation of Edmonds, Boss, and DeSaro at the scene of Rogers’ arrest, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police (PBP) will not confirm their involvement. The city government and the local monopoly media outlets have also refused to release the officers’ names.
Protesters held signs with the demands of Rogers’ family, calling for the PBP to release unedited body camera footage, call logs, and surveillance footage from Mercy Hospital where Rogers was taken and later pronounced dead.
“We’re here to stand today in solidarity with Jim Rogers […] We’re here to get people’s justice for Jim Rogers!” one activist said into a megaphone as police pulled up behind the protest on motorcycles. During the protest, police blocked streets in order to isolate and redirect the march.
“We can only win what we demand through struggle, that we take up ourselves!” The activist said to the crowd as they marched. At an intersection, the activist also stated the family’s demands for all the officers who participated in killing Rogers to be charged with murder.
The march follows two vigils for Rogers held in late October. At a vigil on October 30, Rogers’ niece Diamond told attendees, “The media has painted uncle Jim as a homeless man who was labeled as dangerous, aggressive, and threatening, for just being Jim.” She went on to describe her uncle as a father-figure to herself and his other niece Katie. Diamond described her uncle as a fun-loving man, with a love for his family and an interest in the creative arts.
“You [Jim Rogers] have always fought for us so we are going to fight for you,” Diamond said. “We are sorry that you lost your fight and you had to do it alone, but I know that your heart is full, looking at everyone here who has never met you before and who is here to fight for your story. […] We are here for you, we love you, and we will never forget how loved you made us feel.”
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