Community Members Continue To Voice Concerns Over Fatal Shooting Of Osaze Osagie
After discussing the fatal shooting of Osaze Osagie at the last Borough Council meeting, council and the public continued to address the challenges the community faces after the death of the 29-year-old Black man.
Osagie died in March from multiple gun shot wounds after State College police officers arrived at his apartment to serve a mental health warrant. Osagie’s race and mental health status have sparked demonstrations and community discussion on police brutality and the way mental health is handled.
Council president Evan Myers led the meeting by addressing the issues the community still faces following the shooting. Myers reiterated the hope that Pennsylvania State Police and Centre County District Attorney’s office stay transparent and fair in their investigation. As of last week, the DA’s office was awaiting results from the State Police crime lab in Harrisburg.
Myers also outlined items Council put together to help the community heal and discuss the role of mental health and racism in State College, including working closely with community members, organizing groups focused on mental health, evaluating an office of equity and inclusion, and holding public work sessions.
During the public hour, community members again expressed their concerns about the State College environment and their own experiences with racism.
Jennifer Black, a resident of State College who has studied the effects of police misconduct and currently works at a prison justice organization, discussed her experiences with the both the State College and University Police. Black said she has been stopped and questioned while walking down the street and had her car searched on multiple occasions, especially when in a group with other people of color.
“Speaking to young Black people in State College today, including university students, it’s obvious that issues that plagued my generation continue to plague this current one,” Black said. “It does not matter if this is Happy Valley, the national issues that are targeting, criminalizing, and pathologizing Black people that occur around the country also occur here.”
Black said just acknowledging that State College has a problem, being transparent, requiring body cameras, and creating task forces is not enough.
Melanie Morrison, who lives in Millheim, spoke to Council about her concerns while “raising two sons of color,” and the discussions she has had to prepare them for potential interactions with police officers. She said her family has experienced unequal treatment, slurs, and indifference from friends and community members when she’s brought these issues up.
“The community continues to silence our accounts to insert their desired narrative: a lofty inaccurate idea that ultimately leaves our children vulnerable to further harm with little to no recourse,” Morrison said.
“The lack of transparency and guarded speech by those in power give us minimal hope for anything remotely resembling justice. So we gather, we organize, we take action, and we raise our voices in hopes that at the very least we are understood.”
Myers later acknowledged those who spoke, agreeing that work still needs to be done to take the conversation from just a conversation into action that will improve the community.
“Much work is needed to make at least some progress but we need to do it together, so I wanted to express my appreciation to the community for beginning that conversation,” Myers said.
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