HOMEWOOD (KDKA) — Campaign materials from Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess are offending police and prompting accusations of exploitation.
The flier implies children living in Burgess’ district are afraid of the police. The flier also features Jordan Miles and his mother.
Miles was the Homewood teen who prompted a federal investigation of three Pittsburgh police officers who have now been reinstated.
Councilman Burgess’ mailing says our children shouldn’t live in fear of police and while relationships with police are certainly an issue in his council district, some are questioning whether Burgess is using this highly divisive issue just to get re-elected.
Burgess sent the mailing to 5,000 homes in Council District 9, a district that includes East Liberty and Homewood where Miles was beaten in a confrontation with police.
Miles’ mother, Terez Miles, is quoted in the mailing as saying, “They didn’t have to beat my son.”
KDKA-TV spoke with Burgess prior to the decision to not prosecute police in the Jordan case.
“He was someone who was not convicted of a crime,” Burgess said. “There were no weapons or drugs found on him. Certainly, he was someone who was beaten.”
Burgess’ mailing is not welcomed by everyone, especially Pittsburgh police.
“I think it drives a wedge once again between the community and the police department by inferring that one isolated incident is reflective of the entire department,” Dan O’Hara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said.
One of Burgess’ election opponents, Phyllis Copeland-Mitchell, agrees there is distrust of police in the city’s East End, but she believes Burgess is exploiting the issue for his campaign.
“I really think that it’s because of the election right now that he has heightened this situation,” she said.
But Burgess insists he’s trying to bring police and the community together. As for police, they have not endorsed a candidate in the Burgess race.
“I would encourage voters to look at the other two candidates more seriously,” O’Hara said.
Burgess also faces Lucille Prater-Holliday in the May 17 primary.