Classmates and community members on Monday honored Antwon Rose, Jr. as a dynamic and determined young man who deserves to be remembered as more than just the latest hashtag given to unarmed black men killed by police, while vowing to continue pushing for justice.
The funeral for Rose was held in a packed school auditorium six days after the 17-year-old was fatally shot by a police officer as he fled a traffic stop in a town near Pittsburgh. He would have been a senior in high school. The two-hour, tear-filled service was an emotional celebration of a young man whose personality drew a diverse crowd of mourners. Portraits in tribute to Rose were near the stage, and respect came in the form of letters, speeches and performances from close friends and people who didn’t know him well, but were touched by his legacy.
Muslim minister Victor Muhammad told the audience that Rose’s life and death are part of “a perfect storm” meant to bring about “justice for all” and social progress in America. Muhammad said Rose’s unfinished work is now up to those he leaves behind. The funeral program included a poem Rose wrote two years before he was killed, and mourners referenced it frequently during the service. In it, he wrote about being “confused and afraid” and wondering what path his life would take.
“I see mothers bury their sons,” he wrote. “I want my mom to never feel that pain . I understand people believe I’m just a statistic. I say to them I’m different.”
Rose was a passenger in a car pulled over by Officer Michael Rosfeld because police said it matched the description of a car wanted in a shooting in a nearby town.