The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has filed a lawsuit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas against the city of McKeesport, McKeesport police, Allegheny County police, and others regarding the violation of some McKeesport residents’ Fourth Amendment rights and the Pennsylvania Constitution during a police search for a shooting suspect in December of 2020.
On December 20, 2020, police from McKeesport and Allegheny County began an aggressive manhunt for a suspect wanted in the shooting of a police officer. The search targeted Black residents of McKeesport with abusive tactics, such as brandishing firearms, demanding entry into homes at gunpoint without a warrant, and using excessive force during traffic stops. White residents of McKeesport reported being treated far less harshly.
“While Take Action Advocacy Group recognizes the humanity in people, including the officers involved in these abuses, we can’t excuse the behavior of McKeesport police on that night and afterward,” said Fawn Walker Montgomery, executive director of Take Action Advocacy Group. “The shooting of a police officer does not erase our Fourth Amendment rights.”
“The way the city of McKeesport and Allegheny County police officers treated Black residents in McKeesport in December of 2020 is unconscionable,” said Solomon Furious Worlds, staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Due process and the constitutional right to privacy were tossed aside by police during numerous unlawful searches, making many of McKeesport’s Black residents feel like they were being terrorized by a militarized police force. Police can’t use a shooting as an excuse to just pick and choose which elements of the Constitution they want to follow.”
Outside of the lawsuit, TAAG is also demanding an independent investigation to be conducted into the officers' behaviors. In addition, for McKeesport City Council to pass a data transparency ordinance, which would allow law enforcement data to be tracked by race, among other factors. Additionally, the McKeesport Police Department voluntarily participat es in the Allegheny County Police Review Board. Lastly, TAAG calls for a reduction of 10% or more in the McKeesport police budget. The funds saved from this can be reinvested into the community through a foundation grant program that is separate from the City of McKeesport. This foundation would be able to give out grants to community groups working on addressing violence, as well as provide scholarships to youth.
Contact McKeesport Mayor and Allegheny County Police to demand:
500 Fifth AvenueSecond Floor
McKeesport, PA 15132
Allegheny County Police
The city of McKeesport Police passed a data transparency ordinance so that law enforcement data can be tracked by race etc.
City of McKeesport police volunteer to participate in the Allegheny County Police Review Board.
City of McKeesport police defund their budget by 10% or more and place those funds back into the community via a foundation grant program (separate from the City of McKeesport). The foundation can give out grants to community groups working on violence and give scholarships to youth.
Conduct an independent investigation into how the officers responded.
TAAG would like to send a special thanks to the ACLU of Pennsylvania. This is the third case we have worked on with them regarding racial justice in McKeesport. We appreciate their support!
Past Cases w/ACLU (together we won these cases):