Cephas and Lee call on state Human Relations Commission to investigate after assault of two black women by Pittsburgh business owners

HARRISBURG, Sept. 26 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., chairwoman of the Women and Girls of Color Subcommittee for the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today condemned the assault of two black women by male gas station owners at an Exxon Mobil on Brighton Road on Pittsburgh's North Side last Friday.

“This public beating inflicted upon these two young women is absolutely vile,” Cephas said. “The motives for this gang-style free-for-all by these men are clear: they didn’t view their victims as humans worthy of respect. They were appalled that these women -- these black women -- dared to speak up for themselves and not back down. In these individuals’ minds, this warranted a savage beating on camera for all to see.

“This situation is hardly an isolated incident and relates to many larger issues that reveal how much black women and girls are devalued in our society.”

State Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, added, “In the wake of this abhorrent assault, our collective pain as a community is instigated by the conviction of those who would be quick to justify such an offense, by the realization that no matter how many of these interactions we record, and no matter how much restraint we exhibit in the face of abuse, that our society has failed us in its incapacity to recognize our humanity. The frequency and blatant disregard with which these assailants batter black women reveals a deeper truth about our society and the way we think about black women. Our hearts go out to Jamila and Ashia Regan, our hearts go out to their families, our hearts go out to the community, and our hearts go out to all who are feeling the pain of disenfranchisement.”

Cephas pointed to a recent study from the Gender Equality Commission that reported that black Pittsburgh women have drastically worse outcomes in livability compared to their local counterparts and peers in other cities.

“Black women in Pittsburgh experience higher rates of unemployment, poverty and higher rates of maternal and fetal mortality. Systemic and institutional misogyny is prevalent in our society, and so glaringly in Pittsburgh,” Cephas said. “We must do more to ensure that black women across our commonwealth are granted the same rights and dignities as their counterparts. For this latest assault, I hope the district attorney files the adequate charges to ensure these women can receive justice, and we urge the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to further investigate this incident and similar incidents to help to identify ways they can be addressed and prevented. I also stand with the protestors, who are peacefully demanding accountability from the criminal justice system, community members and the attackers."