Last week I wrote a blog about an attempt by Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess to backtrack on the city’s domestic violence policies.
There has been a week of outrage among advocates for the back-handed attempt to eliminate the police-perpetrated domestic violence ordinance that was created in 2007.
Yesterday, three people, including former City Council President Douglas Shields and my friend Audrey Glickman (both of whom were quoted in last Friday’s blog), spoke out in committee to not backtrack. Then today, advocates came out in mass to oppose the commingling of police-perpetrated domestic violence with police responses to domestic violence in the community.
Most of the advocates who spoke were given three minutes to express their concerns. Jeanne Clark (candidate for Pittsburgh City Council, long-time NOW member and a women’s rights advocate), Shirl Regan (Executive Director of Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh), Beth Pittinger (Executive Director of Pittsburgh’s Citizen Police Review Board), and Maryellen Deckard (State Campaign and Development Director for Action United—a membership organization of low and moderate income Pennsylvanians that employed Ka’Sandra Wade before her death—and the convener of ANEW WOMEN—a group of women who have experienced domestic abuse and want to work for change) were given seats at the Council table to discuss the issues in more depth.
Following the concerns raised about domestic violence and with Jeanne’s call for a public hearing, Pittsburgh City Council quashed the attempt to eliminate the police-perpetrated domestic violence ordinance. They placed a hold on the proposed Domestic Violence Task Force ordinance until after a post-agenda hearing is held. And they passed the resolution that allows funds to be expended to start the Maryland Lethality Assessment Training program.
The final vote on this resolution and the amendments made in committee today will be finalized on Tuesday, May 14 during the official business meeting of city Council. Here’s a news article on what happened, along with some quotes.
After the Council met and voted down Burgess’ proposal to eliminate the zero-tolerance policy, Councilman Bill Peduto sent me the following email:
I wanted to let you know that Councilwoman [Natalia] Rudiak, Councilman [Bruce] Kraus and I were able to lobby Council to successfully pass the Police-response DV bills today while stopping the amendments offered by Reverend Burgess that would have weakened the Police-perpetrated DV legislation we worked so hard on back in 2007.
It is unfortunate that politics entered into this debate at all but I am thankful for the many women and men who wrote in to Council and came to Council Chambers today. With your help we were able to stop the games and pass this important legislation to protect victims of domestic violence. Thank you.
Thanks Council members Peduto, Rudiak, and Kraus for your leadership on this issue. Additional thanks to Councilman Danielle Lavelle for your comments and Councilman Corey O’Connor for your clarification on the differences between a resolution and an ordinance.
A final decision on the Domestic Violence Task Force ordinance will occur only after the post-agenda hearing and public hearing are held.
Thanks all for all of your work.
Joanne Tosti-Vasey “Refusing to be Silent” and calling for an end to gender-based violence