On Sunday evening, the 3/20 Coalition met at the Allen Street Gates for its event, “Black Lives and Justice for Osaze: Our Roles, Our Vision.” The event was the second in the organization’s latest series of protests, “Summer Sundays at Allen Street Gates.”
Having organized and participated in numerous meetings, protests and discussions, the 3/20 Coalition called upon community members to gather and listen to original members of the organization. During the series, people will hear about the coalition’s work thus far and how people can become involved in creating “long-lasting, positive, powerful change in our community,” according to a press release from the organization.
The 3/20 Coalition has been “actively working in the intersectionality of mental health, policing and race in our community for well over 15 months now,” according to the press release. The coalition was created following the death of 29-year-old Black State College resident Osaze Osagie.
Osagie was fatally shot on March 20, 2019 by a State College Police officer serving a mental health warrant. Osagie, who had autism and a history of schizophrenia, ran at officers with a knife leading officers to unsuccessfully deploy a Taser during the arrest.
Last year, the death of a State College resident raised many outraged community voices.
Sunday’s discussion focused on how regardless of race, it is the community’s collective duty to end racism and ensure justice.
Member of the 3/20 Coalition Kiana Coleman shared her thoughts on policing and mental health both locally and nationally at the event.
“My personal opinion is [police] aren’t the people to fix [mental health] because it doesn’t seem that they respond well to folks with mental health issues and disabilities,” Coleman (graduate-food science) said.
She added that she recently saw a thread of posts on Instagram sharing resources to call in the event of mental health related issues, rather than calling a local police department. Coleman said she found the post important because she feels “properly trained” professionals should handle mental health reports and calls.
Another member of the coalition served beef and vegetarian hot dogs, water and other snacks to protesters free of charge. While he cooked for attendees on the corner of South Allen Street and College Avenue, he sang “Which Side Are You On?” and inserted Osagie’s name into the melody.
Charles Tierney spoke at the event to remind protestors of the 3/20 Coalition’s 10 demands for the Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna. Aside from the list of demands, the organization also asked that the DA meet with its members, State College Borough Manager Thomas J. Fountaine and State College Police Chief John Gardner.
Of the demands sent to Cantorna, he said two cannot be met due to pending litigation. The two demands include:
- Financial compensation for Osagie’s family
- The release of the names of all officers involved in Osagie’s death and the firing of the officer identified as “Officer #1”
The remaining demands are as follows:
- Implementation of a Community Advisory Board to address Discrimination, Bias and Racism in our local government and police
- Divestment of guns during the service of mental health checks and Mental Health Warrants
- Revision to Standards of Operating Procedures which emphasize de-escalation strategies to be used during engagement and consequences for failure to execute
- Public access to officer misconduct information and disciplinary history when death results
- Public release of protocol and body cam footage for officers accused of misuse of force and race-based policing
- A ban on the use of knee holds and choke holds
- Transparency and the release of policing data regarding policing with special attention to race and ethnicity
- A reallocation of funding away from the SCPD to programs that address root causes of suffering and violence, and provide benefit to public well-being and safety
Although the State College Borough Council passed a resolution on June 23 that mentioned eight of the 3/20 Coalition’s demands, Tierney, along with many other members of the organization, agree that local officials haven’t done as much as they should to fight for racial justice.
“Here and elsewhere, the people have had enough,” Tierney (graduate-aerospace engineering) said. “…We cannot let up. We cannot stop until there’s justice for Osaze.”
The event’s emcee and 3/20 Coalition member Christopher DeJarnett said although protestors have shown up in greater numbers in the past, he hopes the movement doesn’t become lost to daily life.
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“I think the immediacy of the atrocities that are occurring may have brought people out more willingly,” DeJarnett said. “However, don’t allow time to become a discourager to our continued participation. Change doesn’t happen overnight.”
DeJarnett added that he feels injustices in America are powered by the theocracy of money in the country.
“Money… led to some of the injustices that we have witnessed over time,” DeJarnett said. “The execution of Native Americans, the importation of Asians — particularly Chinese, the Vietnam War, slavery, Jim Crow, as most of these systems, have come about because people wanted to protect their properties, and your properties were easily to be gained through the misuse or abuse of others.”
Coleman shared a message she likes to stick by considering the current state of the Black Lives Matter movement and with “protests and uprisings” across the nation.
“These aren’t moments, these are movements,” Coleman said. “They’re going to keep happening until we have justice for everybody.”