Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker was in Pittsburgh today participating in protests sparked by the death of an unarmed teen who was shot by police this week. Walker used the opportunity to urge protesters in Pittsburgh to march in the City of Aliquippa.
Antwon Rose, 17, was one of two passengers in a vehicle that matched the description of one involved in an earlier shooting. Rose was shot Tuesday night by an officer as he attempted to flee the car after it was stopped by police.
A photograph taken today by Kieran Mclean of The Pitt News shows Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker marching arm-in-arm with Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto as part of ongoing protests in the city. Video taken by KDKA-TV shows Mayor Walker speaking to a crowd of protesters, urging them to come to Beaver County and march in Aliquippa.
“There’s a blessing at the end of this, there’s a blessing at this end of this, but don’t let it rest today,” Walker told the crowd. “Stand tall because you are needed now, you are wanted now, you are loved now. Not just today, but every day. I speak from the City of Aliquippa, Beaver County! I am asking for your love. I want a march in my city! Come see my city! Come see my county! We need it now. We need to stand in solidarity like a fist, you can not break a fist if it is closed, it’s closed, it’s closed, so please rally.”
It is not clear why Mayor Dwan Walker wants protests to occur in the City of Aliquippa.
“He has gone mad,” Councilman Matthew Mottes told BeaverCountian.com after seeing the video of Mayor Walker. “Why would he want chaos in Aliquippa? Our police department is understaffed at this time and we do not have the resources to deal with a protest. Though I believe in freedom of speech, this is not the right time for the Mayor to be calling for this to happen in our city.”
Councilman Mottes said Aliquippa police are working on emergency contingency plans in case Mayor Walker is successful at starting protests in the city.
The Aliquippa Police Department has seen turmoil in recent weeks, with Chief Donald Couch placed on paid administrative leave by City Council on June 6 — Councilman Mottes said publicly he has firsthand information Couch is the subject of investigation by state police. Assistant Chief Joe Perciavalle was named acting chief in Couch’s absence, but he was arrested less than two days later by Beaver County Detectives on charges he sent an obscene image to the underage daughter of Police Sgt. Kenneth Watkins. Watkins has also been on paid leave since May 16 due to ties he had with Rachael DelTondo, a school teacher who was murdered outside of her parents’ home in Aliquippa on May 13.
Mayor Walker is similarly the subject of ongoing public corruption investigations being conducted by Pennsylvania State Police and has refused requests by investigators to speak with them, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. The Aliquippa City Building was raided by state police in March, in what then state police Lieutenant Eric Hermick said was part of a probe by a Pennsylvania Statewide Investigating Grand Jury.
Walker has not returned multiple requests for comment left by BeaverCountian.com over recent months about the ongoing investigations, and could not be reached today for comment about his call for a march in the city.