A birthday celebration will be held for Antwon Rose II in his hometown of Rankin on Thursday — which would have been his 18th birthday.
The 1st Annual Antwon Rose II Community Birthday Celebration, organized by One Hood Media, Young Black Motivated Kings & Queens and Rose’s family and friends, takes place less than a month after he was fatally shot by an East Pittsburgh police officer while unarmed and fleeing a traffic stop on foot.
“Generally, this is a celebration of his life, and we’re just trying to lift people up and stress the fact that this was a young man taken far too soon, a young man who was a contributing member of his community,” said Tye Clarke, One Hood Media director of public relations.
“It’s bigger than just this young man, and we want to uplift with joy and happiness, and we’re trying to find and have something positive come on this day. I’m certain it will be hard for his mom. She really just wants to honor him and shed light and give back.”
Family friend Joelisa McDonald said Rose’s mom, Michelle Kenney, picked up a new skateboard last week for her son at a local skatepark he frequented. McDonald called it a symbolic birthday gift that Kenney has since placed in his room.
She said Kenney “didn’t want to be alone on his birthday and giving herself a pity party and drowning in her emotions, and so this will help her through the grievance process.”
Kenney will be joined at the celebration by the mother of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old fatally shot by Cleveland police in 2014.
“One Hood Media is sponsoring Tamir’s mother. She’s being brought in and she’ll be presenting,” Clarke told The Incline by phone Tuesday.
The event will be held from noon to 8 p.m. at Hawkins Village, is free and open to the public, and will include food, vendors, bounce houses and live performances — some of the lineup details are still being finalized.
Leon Ford, who survived a police shooting in Pittsburgh in 2012 that left him paralyzed, is also expected to speak, as is state Rep. Ed Gainey. Braddock mayor and lieutenant governor candidate John Fetterman and Gisele Fetterman, community organizer and founder of the Free Store 15104, where Rose volunteered, are also expected to attend.
“The theme is unity,” McDonald added. “We wanted to have the focus be on unity and the kids.”
There will be giveaways of clothing, books and book bags to children in grades K-12. Clarke said the bags will be stuffed this evening at One Hood Media’s office, 460 Melwood Ave. Suite 207, and that donations of items can be dropped off there. Donations can also be made at the event location until noon Thursday. Monetary donations can be made here.
“We’ve received so many other donations — water, pop, utensils, cleaning products, you name it — that I haven’t even been able to get to them all. They’ve come from across the world and across the country,” McDonald said.
The event will culminate with a balloon release in Rose’s honor on what would have been the day the teen entered adulthood.
A birthday celebration on what would have been Antwon Rose II's 18th birthday will include food, vendors, bounce houses and live performances and giveaways of books, clothing and backpacks for children. This event is open to the public.
Where: Hawkins Village (Rankin)
When: July 12, 2018 from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
How much: Free
Rose was fatally shot June 19 in East Pittsburgh by officer Michael Rosfeld, who has been charged with criminal homicide.
The shooting prompted weeks of protests in and around Pittsburgh, protests that continued as recently as this past weekend. But Clarke said that dynamic will be largely absent from Thursday’s birthday celebration, and organizers are asking that no protests take place in the space during the event.
“We’re really looking to make this a day to celebrate his life and to bring people from all walks of life together,” Clarke said.