Osaze Osagie

Two yard signs that read Black Lives Matter and Thank You Police Officers displayed side by side
Emily Reddy / WPSU

The State College Borough Council passed its 2021 budget Monday night. The budget will fund the creation of two community-based groups to address issues stemming from the 2019 police killing of Osaze Osagie. 

In a 5 to 2 vote, the Council approved a budget of more than $69 million in expenses and $59 million in revenue. With a nearly $10 million projected shortfall, the borough will leave six currently vacant positions unfunded in the new year, including two police officers.  

In this file photo, marchers participate in a May 31, 2020, protest in State College against police brutality and racism.
Min Xian / WPSU

A State College community group that’s been pushing for police reform is encouraging members of the public to voice their opinions at a public hearing the borough is holding Monday night for its 2021 proposed budget, including police funding.

“The police officers are supposed to serve and protect the community, and as of now, we don’t feel as if they’re doing that," said Tierra Williams, co-chair of the 3/20 Coalition, a local group pushing for police reforms. 

In this file photo, marchers participate in a May 31, 2020, protest in State College against police brutality and racism.
Min Xian / WPSU

In a special meeting Tuesday night, State College Borough Council approved a resolution calling for racial justice and the creation of a community oversight board to address bias and racism.

Council voted unanimously to create an oversight board to address discrimination, bias and racism by local government and police. The resolution calls for it to be formed by Aug. 1. Councilman Evan Myers said it was time to take action. 

“Black men and women are dying at the hands of vigilantes and police, and we need to do all we can to stop that," Myers said.

Paul Clark is a professor and director of the School of Labor and Employment Relations at Penn State. He spoke with WPSU’s Anne Danahy about the push to reform police departments and what that would mean for police unions.

Participants in "Justice for Black Lives" march Sunday, June 7, 2020, in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / WPSU

When Penn State announced the phased return of athletes, the university said students are required to practice safety measures, including wearing face masks in public, observing social distancing and avoiding large groups.

 

Penn State began bringing athletes back to campus Monday, starting with 75 football players. Some players were among the participants in a “Justice for Black Lives” rally held Sunday in State College.

 

More than a thousand people participated in a protest in downtown State College Sunday night as protests against racism and for police reform continued nationwide over the weekend.
Min Xian / WPSU

More than a thousand people participated in a protest in downtown State College Sunday night as protests against racism and for police reform continued nationwide over the weekend. Sunday’s protest, the second in two weeks, put its focus on local reform.

Protesters chanted “No justice, no peace!” and “Black Lives Matter!” as they gathered at the Allen Street Gate and marched through Penn State’s University Park campus and downtown. The crowd held a sit-in on Atherton Street briefly before ending the march in front of the borough municipal building. 

Patricia Best, the new chair of the Task Force on Mental Health Crisis Services in State College and Centre County, talks about the group's goals.
Min Xian / WPSU

The police shooting of Osaze Osagie in State College a year ago began a community-wide discussion about mental health services, race relations and police policies. 

The Borough of State College and Centre County teamed up to create a Task Force on Mental Health Crisis Services, with a goal to assess the current system and recommend changes.

WPSU’s Min Xian talked with Patricia Best, chair of the task force, about that plan.

TRANSCRIPT:

Min Xian: Patricia Best, thanks for joining us.

Attorney Kathleen Yurcak stands next to Iyunolu and Sylvester Osagie Sept. 12, 2019, during a press conference
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Attorneys for the family of the 29-year-old State College man who was fatally shot by police in March have filed a notice of plans to sue the State College police. At a press conference Thursday, attorneys said they believe the death was avoidable and want access to all information in the case.

With Osaze Osagie’s parents standing behind them, lawyers for the family — including Andrew Celli — said the legal filing is the first step in holding the system responsible.

Kristine Allen / WPSU

Actor and playwright Charles Dumas has written a new play, to be performed in staged readings this weekend at Three Dots in State College. It tells the story of the police shooting of Osaze Osagie in March.

The title of Dumas’ play is “Osaze Remembering…” In excerpts from the prologue, read for us at WPSU by Charles Dumas and his wife, Jo Dumas, the audience is told up front that they’ll be exposed to various points of view on the death of Osaze Osagie.

About two dozen people attended a public forum on Tuesday, where State College Borough Manager Tom Fountaine and Police Chief John Gardener discussed the internal review of the shooting of Osaze Osagie.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

The State College Police Department released an internal review on Monday regarding the police shooting of Osaze Osagie. 

The police department’s Internal Review Board said the three officers who responded to a mental health check on Osagie “acted within policy.” 

3/20 Coalition members outside the Allen Street Gate
Evan Beebe / WPSU

Community activists held a vigil last night in front of the Allen Street gates to remember Osaze Osagie, a State College resident who was fatally shot by local police on March 20th.

 

It’s been over three months since Osagie's death, yet friends and community activists have remained persistent in their efforts to make changes to the state’s mental health procedures. One of Osagie’s closest friends, Yamaya Abdul Cunningham, said there are several revisions the state should consider.

Centre County DA Bernie Cantorna, along with Will Slaton, commander of the Heritage Affairs section in the Pennsylvania State Police Equality and Inclusion Office, announced Wednesday that police officers who killed Osaze Osagie would not face charges.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna announced Wednesday that charges will not be filed against the State College police officer who fatally shot Osaze Osagie. 

Cantorna said officers followed training and were justified in their use of force. That included use of both a Taser and a gun. Cantorna's full report is available online.

Pastor Pamela Haddon Ford begins the event with a prayer.
Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

 

Dozens gathered in downtown State College Thursday night to recognize the 51st anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination.

Reverend Pamela Haddon Ford started the event with a prayer.

“We stand in community with one another in this place of sacred remembrance. Receive our gratitude as we remember the life of Dr. King,” Haddon Ford said.

The event was marked by singing, prayer and speeches at the Fraser Street Commons where community members could listen, sing along and enjoy refreshments.

Several hundred people showed up for the funeral of Osaze Osagie at State College Alliance Church.
Min Xian / WPSU

Speakers at the funeral of Osaze Osagie talked about his smile, his hugs and his deep faith in God. Several hundred people attended the funeral on Saturday of the 29-year-old black man shot by State College police on March 20. 

Attendees were given a white rose as they entered State College Alliance Church. 

The crowd filled the 500-seat worship space and more than 100 people watched the service through a video feed in the lobby of the church. A band sang worship hymns. 

Osaze Osagie, a 29-year-old State College man, was fatally shot by police on March 20, 2019.
Osagie Family

Attorney Andrew Shubin says the parents of Osaze Osagie feel enormous grief, as any parent would if they lost their son.

“But, in this situation, it’s far more complicated and really devastating, because you have a parent who reached out for help, who set the wheels in motion for what eventually wound up as a police shooting of their son," Shubin said.

Several hundred people gathered at the Allen Street Gates in State College Thursday for a vigil for Osaze Osagie, who was fatally shot by police officers on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.
Min Xian / WPSU

When the State College group Community and Campus in Unity met Monday night, the focus was on the fatal shooting of Osaze Osagie and rebuilding community trust.

“Thank you for everyone’s comments so far and questions. I’m warmed by the fact that so many people are here, because Osaze has been heavy on my heart," said State College resident Eric Ian Farmer. "One hundred and three years of a police department without killing any resident. What about this particular event or incident, was so unique?”

Gathererers at vigil hold picture of man shot by police
Min Xian / WPSU

Several hundred people gathered for a vigil at the Allen Street Gates in State College Thursday evening for the man who was fatally shot by police Wednesday. 

“We are gathered here tonight to honor the life of a 29-year-old African-American male, Osaze Osagie,” said Danieltta Pantoe, a Penn State junior and president of the Student Black Caucus, as she led the vigil to remember Osagie.

Osagie was fatally shot by State College police Wednesday. Police went to his apartment for a mental health check, and he reportedly confronted them with a knife.

Police Chief Gardner at a podium
Anne Danahy / WPSU

 

State College police fatally shot a man in an apartment on Old Boalsburg Road Wednesday while attempting to serve a mental health warrant. The case has been turned over to Pennsylvania state police.

“I stand before you with a heavy heart to provide you with a statement regarding a 29-year-old African-American male who died in a police-involved shooting today," State College Police Chief John Gardner said during a press conference Wednesday.