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“The Osaze Project” explores the incidents which led up to the Osaze Osagie tragedy

Penn State Centre Stage Virtual will present The Osaze Project directed and devised by professor emeritus Charles Dumas. The project will premiere Friday, November 13, with a pre-show discussion at 7:30 p.m., presentation at 8:00 p.m. EDT. The event is free and can be viewed at sites.psu.edu/pscsvirtual beginning on the first date of the performance.

On March 19, 2019, Sylvester Osagie called the State College Borough police about his son, Osaze, who he had not heard from in several days. Osaze, a 29-year-old African-American man, was on the autism spectrum. Sylvester was concerned that he had stopped taking his medication. The police helped Sylvester search for Osaze. He filed for a 302 warrant, which allows authorities to take an individual into medical custody to determine whether they are a potential danger to themselves or others. The next day, March 20, three police officers went to Osaze’s apartment to serve the 302 warrant. Less than a minute after they knocked on the door, Osaze was dead.  The officers claimed that after opening the door Osaze had attacked them with a knife.

Two investigations, one by the district attorney, another by the police department exonerated the three officers, saying they had reacted appropriately following departmental procedures. A special Pennsylvania State Police investigator, the only Black person, involved in the investigation, concurred. The investigators also determined that race was not a factor in the case, even though all of the officers were white and Osaze was Black. The officers were returned to duty. Their identities have not been made public to this day.

Following the release of the District Attorney’s report there was major public push-back about its conclusions. Several demonstrations, which included up to a thousand protestors, have been held led members of the 3/20 Coalition and Black Lives Matter.

The Osaze Project is a theatrical workshop that explores the incidents which led up to the Osaze Osagie tragedy, the tragedy itself, and the ongoing community response.  It will result in an online production involving the talents of the students of the School of Theatre, alumni, and actors from the community,” said Dumas.

Charles Dumas was the first African-American full professor in the School of Theatre at Penn State and the first person to direct a play written by an African American for the Penn State mainstage. He has directed, written and performed in over thirty plays in the School of Theatre. He is an Emmy Award-winning actor, and a Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowship recipient for playwriting.

Penn State Centre Stage Virtual is offered free to the public and was created to support Penn State students during this difficult time. Please consider a donation to the School of Theatre Fund which offers financial assistance to help offset the needs of students in the School of Theatre who are adversely impacted and in need of emergency assistance.

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