“I am confused and afraid,” Antwon Rose II once wrote in a poem about injustice that now feels like an eerie foreshadowing of his death.
“I see mothers bury their sons,” he continued. “I want my mom to never feel that pain.”
Unfortunately, two years after he penned those words, Antwon’s mother, his loved ones and his community are all feeling that very pain he feared, as they grieve the loss of an extraordinary young man. The 17-year-old was shot and killed by an East Pittsburgh police officer last Tuesday.
Two of Rose’s friends wept as they read his poem, “I Am Not What You Think!,” during his funeral held at Woodland Hills Intermediate School in Swissvale, Pa.
Hundreds of mourners were gathered in the auditorium as they said their final goodbyes. And while the senseless death of any child is heartbreaking, people couldn’t help noting that Rose stuck out for being particularly “bright, charming and generous”
“Antwon’s death shakes my heart, it rattles my faith that things will ever get better or that the injustice will ever end,” said Gisele Barreto Fetterman, who met Antwon when he volunteered at the Free Store, a charity she founded. “Slowly, too slowly, things will get brighter, even though they’re now so dark.”
Rose was an avid volunteer who gave his time to many causes in his area, and his death has incited a series of protests across the Pittsburgh area that drew hundreds of demonstrators, several carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs and shouting “No Justice, No Peace.”
Organizers said the protests paused on Monday out of respect for his family.
During a taped interview on Sunday with “Good Morning America,” Rose’s mother, Michelle Kenney, held hands with his father, Antwon Rose Sr., as she grappled to make sense of why her unarmed child was shot three times as he ran away from a vehicle during a traffic stop. She believes that the officer who shot Antwon, identified by the authorities as Michael Rosfeld, “murdered my son in cold blood.”
According to the family’s attorney, S. Lee Merritt, they are considering pursuing civil litigation and pressuring law enforcement to file criminal charges against the officer.
Rose’s father had a simple message for the protesters: “Keep fighting. Do it peacefully.”