Democrat Mayor Karen Peconi is facing public backlash after a series of messages in which she reportedly called for “rioters to be destroyed by a water cannon.”
On Facebook, the Arnold, Westmoreland County, mayor reportedly said that she was “posting this so the authorities everywhere sees this … bring the hoses.” Then, “they don’t care about jobs for PGH … none of them work now. That’s how they can do this at 7 a.m. Very sad.”
Another post references a 1963 protest photo in which a large water cannon is taking aim at protesters demanding equal rights, saying, “we need one of these for tomorrow.”
The protesters in question are demanding justice in the police shooting of unarmed black 17-year-old Antwon Rose in East Pittsburgh. Rose was attempting to flee a traffic stop when he was allegedly shot by Officer Michael Rosfeld, who has been charged with criminal homicide.
In a statement, Mayor Peconi wrote: “I love this community, I would do anything for the people here. I don’t take my position as Mayor lightly and deeply regret the comments I made on Facebook. It was never my intention to offend anyone, and for those who I offended I am sincerely sorry.”
Many are now calling for Peconi to resign, as City Solicitor David Regoni works at damage control. “I can’t comment for her obviously, she made the comments,” Regoli said. “I think that since she made the comments she’s issued an apology. Those comments are not the way that the city of Arnold, which is a very diverse community, feels.”
Protester Melvyn Smith does not think that an apology will cut it. “She says that she loves Arnold. If you love Arnold, you won’t do things to hurt it. You’ll do the things that will make it heal and feel better,” he said. “Her resignation is what would do that.”