A Pennsylvania mayor is under pressure to resign after she reportedly suggested police should blast people protesting the death of Antwon Rose — an unarmed black teenager fatally shot by an East Pittsburgh police officer earlier this month — with water cannons.
Mayor Karen Peconi of Arnold, Pennsylvania, located about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, wrote on her personal Facebook page that “rioters” should “be destroyed by a water canon [sic],” according to WTAE-TV.
Peconi apparently said she wanted authorities "everywhere" to see her posts.
“They don’t care about jobs for [Pittsburgh] … none of them work now. That’s how they can do this at 7 a.m. Very sad,” Peconi allegedly posted on her now-deleted Facebook page.
Peconi initially denied writing the posts, telling WTAE in a phone call Monday that “the mayor didn’t post those,” referring to herself in third-person. But following days of backlash, Peconi has since apologized for the remarks, saying she “love[s] 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,” Peconi said in a statement Wednesday. “It was never my intention to offend anyone and, for those who I offended, I am sincerely sorry.”
Peconi is one of five members of Arnold’s city council. The other members have been critical of her social media comments and subsequent statement, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
Council member Joseph Bia called for Peconi’s resignation, saying the apology “did nothing for me.”
“It’s time for her to go. She needs to resign immediately,” Phillip McKinley, a councilman, told the newspaper.
The Tribune-Review reported that past social media posts by Peconi could also be deemed offensive, including one that called former President Barack Obama an “imposter.” Another post apparently featured a picture of the crumbling Twin Towers in New York City with a caption that asked, “How did we go from this to being afraid of offending Muslims?”
A 7-hour rally has been scheduled to take place outside the city clerk’s office on Thursday to call for Peconi’s resignation. Nearly 50 Facebook users said they would attend the demonstration “because she advocated violence against peaceful protesters and made racist comments.”
East Pittsburgh Officer Michael Rosfeld, who is white, was charged with one count of criminal homicide in the death of Rose, who was 17 years old. On June 19, Rosfeld stopped the car Rose was riding in because it matched the description of a car witnesses reported seeing leaving the area of a non-fatal drive-by shooting in a nearby town.
Rose and another teenager ran after being pulled over. Rosfeld fired three shots, all of them striking Rose, who later died at the hospital. The officer originally told investigators he thought he “saw something dark he perceived as a gun” but later said he did not see a gun and wasn’t sure if Rose’s arm was pointed at him.
Fox News’ Travis Fedschun and The Associated Press contributed to this report.