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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Posted By on Tue, Nov 22, 2016 at 3:52 PM

There's a scene in the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall where a surf instructor (Paul Rudd) teaches Jason Segel's character how to stand up on a surf board. His advice: "Don't do anything. The less you do, the more you do."

I gave similarly frustrating direction to my friend Chuck from 2011-2014 when asking for a particular strain of electronic music. Nerds call it "minimalism." He'd send me really great stuff from Dominik Eulberg and Minilogue, and I'd say, "yeah, yeah, it's good, but there's too much." I'd be on board for the opening ambients, but once a kick drum landed and even the slightest hint of form emerged, I'd lose interest.

I'm not sure what's wrong with me. As in the movie scene, once Segel tries just lying flat facedown on the board, the instructor responds "You gotta do more than that, 'cause you're just laying right out, it looks like you're boogie boarding." In this exhausting analogy, I was searching for boogie boarding music, music very close to being nothing at all.

I found it in Thursday Afternoon by Brian Eno in 2014. It's a one-track album from 1986 that music geeks probably love (I wouldn't know!). There's not much to it, a bunch of arhythmic piano notes and some subtle droning, but the song strikes a nice balance of nothingness and form. It was exactly what I had been after for years.

Okay, so this isn't for everybody. Some of these tunes might sound a little new-agey. "Thursday Afternoon", in particular, can feel a little like you're getting a massage in a room filled with dreamcatchers. Or like a bunch of incense started a band. Or, as the music magazine MOJO described it,  "[A] seamless 61 minutes of random piano notes falling, like raindrops from a leaf, onto a shimmering synthesizer puddle." Yuck!

Having said that, I love this stuff. Hours pass easily doing work to this music (the ten songs in this playlist top five hours total) and I don't think it's quite as gimmicky and easy to make as it may sound. If you're turned off by the near-formless tracks from Eno and Hatakeyama, give Stars of the Lid a try.

SOTL, as they like to be called, is one of the preeminent groups working in ambient music. They started in 1993 and while they've been on hiatus since '07, there's a ton of great music that's a little more active than the rest here. A little. There's still only an instrument or two per track, but there's structure beyond repetition, the chords are smart, things actually happen even if they're quiet about it. Also works well for hangovers. And sleep.

The Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson, on the other hand, brings some actual solid melody to the table, albeit slow as fuck and way understated. He's also a film scorer (currently working on the score for the new Blade Runner), and you'll be able to hear it.

Kid606 is Miguel Trost De Pedro, a Venezuelan electronic artist who I first discovered via his 2000 album Down With The Scene. That album is great, but not really ambient (aside from this one). At times, it's actually pretty hard to swallow (ear-wise), which is why I was surprised when I found his cover of one of Eno's other ambient classics, Discreet Music (full circle!). Words like "understated" and "minimal" are gonna get worn out here, so I'll just say it sounds like something your toddler or cat would play by accident on the synth. Good stuff.

So if you're feeling stressed this week, whether at home, work, sweeping or not, these ten tracks might help. Or the relentless calmness might fill you with psychopathic rage. It's hard to say with these things, but I think you should roll the dice.

Best if you work in: surf board instruction, holistic anything

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Posted By on Mon, Nov 21, 2016 at 12:51 PM

Photo courtesy of Christopher Tritschler
This week's mp3 comes from sludgy doom/experimental metal trio Brown Angel. Stream or download  “Fair and Lovely” from the band’s latest release, Shutout, below; you can also pick up a copy of the full record from Sleeping Giant Glossolalia (and if you need more convincing, check out our review).

Brown Angel: Fair and Lovely

This download has expired, sorry!

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Posted By on Fri, Nov 18, 2016 at 5:14 PM

CP photo by Rebecca Addison
Downtown Pittsburgh will have a new tenant this holiday season. Officially opening on Black Friday, Steel City, an online clothing and accessories retailer, has taken over the storefront at 625 Smithfield St.

Run by husband and wife team Brandon and Carly Grbach, Steel City sells vintage-inspired shirts, sweatshirts, hats and more. And all of their wares celebrate Pittsburgh.

"It's mostly '60s- and '70s-inspired apparel," Brandon says. "We try to take the touristy kind of shirt and we upscale it with quality material."

Brandon found out about the Smithfield Street location during online clothing retailer ModCloth's pop-up shop there earlier this year. And thanks in part to a grant from the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Steel City will inhabit the space through Christmas Eve.

"I love Downtown. It's so iconic and I just wanted to give it a try," says Brandon. "With a brand like Steel City, it's all about Pittsburgh, so where better than the heart of the city."

Brandon first got involved in apparel design after dropping out of the University of Pittsburgh. "I just took up apparel design as a Hail Mary," he says.

He was hired to create a Pittsburgh zombie T-shirt, and his design, which parodied the Pittsburgh Pirates logo (substituting the pirate with a zombie and giving him a baseball bat wrapped in chains with a gun thrown in for good measure), was turned down by the client. But it was popular elsewhere and gained Brandon notoriety after former Pirates player A.J. Burnett wore the shirt in pre-game interviews.

Today Steel City is the only independent brand featured by the NFL. And they once raised $14,000 in two weeks for Breast Cancer awareness.

"It really has been a collaboration of a lot of people to make this work," says Brandon.

Carly says a large portion of their clientele are "expat displaced yinzers." Forty percent of Steel City's online sales are to out-of-state buyers. And they've even sold to a couple of boutiques in Japan.

For a sneak preview of what they offer, check out Steel City's soft opening tonight from 7-9 p.m. during Light Up Night's festivities. Stop in for refreshments and a 15 percent discount on everything in the store.

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Posted By on Fri, Nov 18, 2016 at 11:49 AM

click to enlarge Student-debt protesters march through Oakland. - CP PHOTO BY STEPHEN CARUSO
CP photo by Stephen Caruso
Student-debt protesters march through Oakland.
University of Pittsburgh police arrested two people Thursday night after a protest against student debt and president-elect Donald Trump on Pitt’s campus turned violent.

According to Pitt spokesperson Joe Miksch, the students were charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest and trespassing after they “attempted to enter Litchfield Towers lobby after being asked by university police to not do so.”

Police attempts to clear the lobby of Litchfield’s Tower B sparked a fight after police pushed a female protester who responded with a push of her own. Following the altercation, police subdued and handcuffed three marchers, including that woman.

click to enlarge Protesters clash with police on the University of Pittsburgh campus. - CP PHOTO BY STEPHEN CARUSO
CP photo by Stephen Caruso
Protesters clash with police on the University of Pittsburgh campus.
The demonstration started as a Facebook event hosted by Pitt Against Debt, a student group. But due to the recent election, anti-Trump sentiment coalesced around the march as well. Other groups, such as Pittsburgh Student Solidarity Coalition, also advertised the event on their Facebook pages.

Participants gathered outside the Cathedral of Learning at 5 p.m, spray-painting cardboard signs and sharing chant sheets.

The protest marked the third election-inspired demonstration within the last 48 hours to gather in front of the Cathedral, as well as one of at least eight demonstrations to occur in Pittsburgh in the nine days since the presidential election.

The assembled activists listened to speeches by numerous individuals. Among them were Michael Quinn, a Carnegie Mellon junior art major, who said he attended the event with “the knowledge that if [people] don’t make noise,” xenophobia, homophobia and racism would become “normalized.”

Quinn asserted the crowd had an obligation to protest peacefully, to which a protester in the back responded, “You protest your way, I’ll protest mine.”

After a few warm-up chants of “no Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA,” the protesters marched onto Forbes Avenue toward Carnegie Mellon, looping around Oakland onto Fifth Avenue.

Led by a fluttering black flag and banners reading “raise hell not tuition” and “our grandparents killed fascists”, the marchers recited, “This is what a police state looks like,” as Pittsburgh city police on motorcycles cleared the road ahead. Behind, bicycle-mounted officers, a police truck and multiple cars followed, lights flashing crimson and blue.

While debt and Trump were the announced focus of dissent, protesters chanted about issues ranging from Black Lives Matter to immigration to anti-police sentiment.

Emily Brower, a Pitt junior majoring in sociology, saw the point of marching as greater than any one issue.

“[Protest] lets us feel we have a voice,” Brower said.

As the marchers, some with bandanas covering their face, entered Pitt’s campus proper, they swung down Atwood Street, crossed Forbes Avenue, and then marched back onto the main artery after a brief foray down Sennott Street. The protesters' chants and signs drew the attention of pedestrians, who encouraged the protesters, complimented the police or pulled up their phones to record the event.

In response, demonstrators chimed in that the leery watchers should “get off their phones and into the streets.” A few, such as a still-sweating jogger, accepted the invitation.

From Fifth, the marchers then climbed stairs to Litchfield Towers, and, over the objections of a Pitt police officer, entered through the revolving doors into the lobby.

For 10 minutes, member of the group gave speeches and sang. Some students stood and watched, while others continued on their way to their dorm rooms or the dining hall.

While inside, one student was detained — but not arrested — by Pitt police for planning to place speakers in the University’s quad for a public, post-protest celebration. After marching to the quad, the protesters chanted at the still-trailing Pitt police to “let him go,” as silhouetted students looked on from dorm windows overhead.

Re-energized by the police detaining a fellow student, the group marched back to Litchfield Towers. Finding its way into the main lobby blocked by police bikes, about a third of the group entered Tower B’s lobby before police cut off its ranks. Cries for their friends’ freedom echoed around the room.

Pitt Police then entered the lobby from both sides to evict the protesters from the lobby, pushing and grabbing protesters to herd the demonstrators out. One of the marchers pushed back, starting a brief fight between baton-armed police and a handful of the protesters, which ended with two women and one masked individual in handcuffs.

Police then quickly forced all the protesters out of the lobby, shoving and prodding them onto Litchfield Tower’s patio. Reinforced by Pittsburgh Police armed with bean-bag shotguns, law enforcement pushed the protesters off University property onto Fifth Avenue’s sidewalk.

Only two protesters were arrested; one, named Philip, was taken away in handcuffs into a waiting Pittsburgh Police car on Forbes Avenue. As police closed the door, protesters chanted his name.

Angela Ryu, a Pitt alum and current Pitt staff member who participated in the protests and watched events unfold, found the Pitt police’s action ironic; in a Facebook post she shared on Pittsburgh Student Solidarity Coalition’s website after the protest, she wrote:

"Let it be known that tonight, tuition-paying students were forced out of the spaces that exist and are maintained solely for their use by brutal force wielded by policemen who are paid through the tuition these students pay.”

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Posted By on Thu, Nov 17, 2016 at 1:50 PM

click to enlarge Protesters march through Oakland - CP PHOTO BY LUKE THOR TRAVIS
CP photo by Luke Thor Travis
Protesters march through Oakland

"Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here."

"No borders, no nations, stop deportations."

"My body, my choice. Her body, her choice."

"Black lives matter."

"Love wins."

From the protest chants alone, you get a sense that last night's peaceful protest from Oakland to the Birmingham Bridge was organized to bring attention to the wide range of equality issues facing Americans.

"Equality for all people brought me here tonight," said Jamie Scafuri, a Pittsburgh resident. "I hope this promotes peaceful activism in our country."

While the protest mirrored similar events occurring around the country and in Pittsburgh in the wake of the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, the two-mile walk wasn't branded as an anti-Trump rally. Instead, organizers said it was designed to bring attention to rights they feel should be respected moving into the next presidency. Among the priorities identified in speeches throughout the march were diversity, the environment, religious tolerance, police brutality and  LGBT and immigrant rights.

"It's not an anti-Trump protest," said Brandi Williams, an African American University of Pittsburgh student. "We just want progress. I want people to know my life matters. I hope people can understand the points we're making."

Overwhelmingly, the more than 200 protesters stayed on message, but there were several in the group who called for more drastic measures like rioting or marching beyond the permitted route blocked off by police. But even for those championing for peace, the pall of Trump, and his attacks on marginalized groups over the past year weighed heavily.

"I'm very passionate about my rights," said Lark Blackson, co-president of a feminist organization. "I honestly don't think Trump is a good president for anyone but white people, especially white men. People need to know what they say matters."

Check out our slideshow from photographer Luke Thor Travis for more scenes from the march.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Posted By on Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 4:36 PM

My parents were never too hot on video games. My brother and I weren’t allowed to own them and were encouraged to keep it minimal if we were playing at a friend’s house, which we never did.

However, there were exceptions.

Every Thanksgiving, we’d be treated to a Thursday-to-Sunday Super Nintendo rental from our local video store (what a sentence). And we’d spend most of the hours in between plugged in to Turtles in Time and Super Mario. So much to be grateful for.

There was another loophole: once a console was obsolete and thoroughly un-cool, we were free to have at it. This started when my brother bought a Nintendo 64 in 2001, but I’ve carried on in kind, with a Super Nintendo in 2005, a PS2 in 2007 and a Wii in 2012. It’s a healthy way to be, I think. It helps tamper the all-in, sleep-when-I'm-dead enthusiasm/madness that tends to accompany new gaming technology for kids (or adults).

We were also allowed to play games on the computer. (I’m not sure why this was seen as different). Wolfenstein, this epic biker gang drama called Full Throttle, Lemmings, that sorta stuff. But there was one that stood above the rest: Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness.

It’s a fantasy, real-time strategy game, orcs vs. humans, in which you build up an army while balancing a budget of gold, lumber and oil. There are dragons. There are catapults. Peons say "jub jub" when you click on them. It's top tier.

I found a way to play it online last year, and around the time Donald Trump won the Republican nomination, I started playing pretty often after work while listening to the song’s in today’s playlist.

Part of this was born out of the fact that I found myself mindlessly drawn to the ugliest parts of this election and I couldn’t find a way to stop. I spend most of my day in front of a computer, often keeping tabs on the paper's Facebook and Twitter profiles, so it was pretty tough to avoid at work. But what disturbed me is that I went to it quickly when I got home. I’d walk in the door and find myself on the couch, combing through Twitter and clicking on anything that made me nauseous. It was not a particularly healthy way to be and I can’t imagine I’m alone on that. So I played Warcraft.

On Tuesday night, I was doing a live election podcast with Charlie Deitch and Margaret Welsh. As the night wore on and the result became clear, we started talking about how we had escaped and distracted ourselves during this election, and how we planned to do so in the future. My memory is a little hazy (beers were had), but I believe Charlie took up the timpani and Margaret, bocce. My distraction was obviously the big W2:TOD, and in talking about it, I realized how significant of a role the game had played in my life the past year.

While I know that now is not the time to sit on the couch and hide from the situation our country is in, I do think it's important to find some peace for yourself on a regular basis these days, to stave off insanity/depression/disease brought on by current events. I think we can all agree on that. I gotta say, though: I didn't think I'd find mine in a 21-year-old video game about orcs. But I did.

The songs on the playlist are dramatic, dissonant, noisy, spooky, and at times, atonal. There's a 30-minute song from Swans; there are tracks from Jonny Greenwood's There Will Be Blood soundtrack (perfect for prospecting oil in Azeroth); there's some noise rock from Animal Collective and Kid606, "Dopesmoker" by Sleep; music from It Follows; and Aphex Twin (obviously). This is music to creep to (fantastic!).

Over the past six months, I've spent a lot of time listening to these songs and playing this game. Without it, I'd surely have taken to drink (a much better way of saying "drink too much") or lost my mind. I know we need to be active now more than ever, but you have to take care of yourself while you're doing it. So my advice: play a video game you like (not Warcraft, I don't want a bunch of n00bs crashing the site) and listen to these tunes. Or something else, something methodical and gratifying and difficult and surreal, and listen to these tunes. It'll feel great.

So, my parents did their best to shield me from video game obsession and for a while it worked. But after 29 years, the wall has fallen, like a Lordaeron gryphon over Blackrock Spire. And I gotta say: it was perfect timing.

Best if you work in: lumber, gold, oil

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Posted By on Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 3:24 PM

Every Wednesday, we make a Spotify playlist containing tracks from artists mentioned in the current music section. Give it a listen below:


Posted By on Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 1:46 PM

click to enlarge Dozens filled Pittsburgh City Council chambers for a public hearing on gender equity - CP PHOTO BY REBECCA ADDISON
CP Photo by Rebecca Addison
Dozens filled Pittsburgh City Council chambers for a public hearing on gender equity
For years, international rankings have been bursting the United States' bubble of superiority. The U.S. ranks in the middle of the pack of developed countries in science and math. According to the World Health Organization, our health system ranks 37th out 190. And we're not even ranked in the top 10 for freedom; we're ranked 20th.

So it should come as little surprise that the U.S. isn't ranked in the top ten for gender equity either. We're 28th. And when it comes to gender pay equity, America ranks 74th. Here in Allegheny County, women make 68 cents for every dollar a man makes.

"You will hear people say the wage gap isn't real," Jessie Ramey, director of Chatham University's Women's Institute, said yesterday. "Don't listen to them. It is real."

Yesterday's Pittsburgh City Council special meeting and subsequent public hearing centered around city legislation to adopt the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. While CEDAW has not been adopted by the United States (and only 6 other U.N. countries, including Iran), cities across the country have adopted elements of the treaty.

"It allows us to examine issues related to gender," said Sara Goodkind, a professor with the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, at yesterday's meeting. "The CEDAW ordinance gives Pittsburgh the opportunity to be at the forefront of equity and inclusion work."

Cities that have passed similar ordinances have seen results like more equitable workplaces and lower incidences of domestic violence. San Francisco's CEDAW ordinance was credited for the elimination of domestic homicides for a record 44 months in a row from 2010 to 2013. For the past three years, Allegheny County has had the most domestic violence related homicides of any other Pennsylvania county.

"A gender analysis is an excellent step to addressing gender inequities," said Barbara Grover, of the Sierra Club who testified at the public hearing. "We certainly have made progress over the last 60 years, but equity in all areas of women's lives has not been achieved."

The legislation calls for the creation of a Gender Equity Commission which would conduct gender analysis of issues like education, violence, economic development, and city services. The commission would also work with city government to educate employees about these issues, identify inequities, and take steps to eliminate systemic discrimination.

"What I think our challenge is going to be is how do we take this from an academic perspective and make it practical for people," said Councilor Natalia Rudiak who sponsored the local legislation. "Let's look at economic development projects that are receiving public dollars. Is there a gender pay gap in those projects that are receiving public dollars? I want to emphasize that when we talk about this, we need to tease out these real life examples."

During the time Pittsburgh City Paper observed yesterday's discussion on gender equity in council chambers, only councilors Rudiak, Deb Gross and Darlene Harris were in attendance. All three voiced support for the legislation.

"I have millions of dollars of development in my district," Gross said. "What does that look like with gender analysis."

Studies have demonstrated that international economies can benefit from implementing CEDAW. According to a report by United Kingdom advocacy organization Action Aid, women could increase their income globally by up to 76 percent if the employment participation gap and the wage gap between women and men were closed. The group says this would have a global value of 17 trillion U.S. dollars.

"Unequal pay serves as a barrier to not only coming out of poverty but breaking the cycle of poverty that so many of our families ourselves in," Carlow University student Traci Johnson said yesterday. "Women need economic opportunities that provide family sustaining jobs. These polices will aid in eliminating the fear and anxiety that many women feel when trying to provide for their families."

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Posted By on Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 4:44 PM

Pittsburgh’s natural-gas lines are old, and many leak. Thanks to a collaboration between the Environmental Defense Fund and Google Earth Outreach, pipeline operators are getting a better idea of where those leaks are and how to target the worst of them — a project whose main goal is fighting climate change.

click to enlarge Google Street View car equipped with methane sensor (the methane sensor is in the trunk; the device on top is a Street View camera) - CP PHOTO BY BILL O'DRISCOLL
CP Photo by Bill O'Driscoll
Google Street View car equipped with methane sensor (the methane sensor is in the trunk; the device on top is a Street View camera)
A four-year-old joint project of the groups uses specially equipped Google Street View mapping cars to sense methane leaks beneath city streets. The initiative, which began in cities including Chicago, Boston and Dallas, came to Pittsburgh at the request of Peoples Gas, which owns the pipes.

This morning, at a Downtown press event attended by Gov. Tom Wolf, Mayor Bill Peduto and Peoples Gas CEO Morgan O’Brien, EDF and Google released online maps showing the location and size of the leaks found so far, mostly in Downtown, the Strip District, Lawrenceville, the Hill District, Oakland and Highland Park. The idea is to help Peoples prioritize places to target as part of its 20-year, $3 billion program to replace the region’s aging lines.

“We need to be able to make the infrastructure tight,” said one of the speakers, EDF chief scientist Steven Hamburg.

It’s not a safety initiative, at 
click to enlarge EDF/Google Earth map of gas leaks as detected by car-mounted sensors: low-level (yellow), medium-level (orange) and high-level (red) - IMAGE COURTESY OF ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND
Image courtesy of Environmental Defense Fund
EDF/Google Earth map of gas leaks as detected by car-mounted sensors: low-level (yellow), medium-level (orange) and high-level (red)
least in the conventional sense: Peoples is already required to monitor its lines for that purpose. Rather, it’s an environmental one. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, responsible for 25 percent of global warming, and leaks are one big component of methane emissions.

“We’re recognizing our aging infrastructure is a contributor to the emissions,” said Ed Palumbo, Peoples’ vice president for reliability.

So far, EDF and Google have outfitted four cars with the sensors, and Pittsburgh is the 11th city for which monitoring date has been released.

The Google-car-mounted sensors are significantly more sensitive than the equipment utility companies typically use to find leaks; they measure the size of a leak, not just its presence. Results have varied widely by city. In Indianapolis, Ind., which has newer gas lines, sensors found only one leak per 200 miles driven, all of them low-level. In Boston, sensors detected about one leak per mile, about 13 percent of them medium- or high-level.

In Pittsburgh, where nearly half the pipes are more than 50 years old (and many are made of more leak-prone material, like cast iron or uncoated steel), the results so far have been more Boston-like: one leak every two miles, about 15 percent of them medium- or high-level.

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Posted By on Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 2:08 PM

click to enlarge More than 100 protesters fill Liberty Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh to demand that Martin Esquivel-Hernandez be released. - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
CP photo by Ryan Deto
More than 100 protesters fill Liberty Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh to demand that Martin Esquivel-Hernandez be released.
The fight to keep Martin Esquivel-Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, in Pittsburgh may be turning. Esquivel-Hernandez has been detained in a private, for-profit prison in Youngstown, Ohio, for more than six months. He has no prior criminal record, has been an advocate for immigrant rights here in Pittsburgh, and traveled more than 5,000 miles over eight months to reunite with his family in the Steel City. And now there is a possibility he will be released and returned home early next month.

Currently, his lawyer Sally Frick is negotiating a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney that would lower Esquivel-Hernandez’s felony re-entry charge to a lesser offense that could remove him from a list of priorities that keep him detained, according to Antonia Domingo, of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), who is advocating on behalf of Esquivel-Hernandez. A change of plea hearing is scheduled on Dec. 8.

However, even if his charge were to be downgraded, Esquivel-Hernandez would still need to have his U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer dropped, or he could be subject to an immigration court hearing and possibly still face deportation.

Esquivel-Hernandez’s supporters took to the streets on Nov. 15 to continue to tell his story and to demand that ICE Pennsylvania Field Officer Thomas Decker release Esquivel-Hernandez’s detainer. More than 100 protesters marched from Mellon Square in Downtown Pittsburgh to the federal office building on Liberty Avenue, where they occupied the street and chanted “Bring Martin home.”

LCLAA president Guillermo Perez spoke outside the federal building and pleaded to ICE to release Esquivel-Hernandez. “People like Martin make an important contribution to the community,” said Perez. “The undocumented are part of the American Dream. … Decker has the power to give prosecutorial discretion and return a good man to his family.”

The Pennsylvania ICE Field Office did not return request for comment by press time.

click to enlarge Shayla Esquivel-Hernandez speaking at a rally in support of her father - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
CP photo by Ryan Deto
Shayla Esquivel-Hernandez speaking at a rally in support of her father
Esquivel-Hernandez's oldest daughter Shayla, who is 10, also spoke at the rally about the negative effects her father’s long absence is having on the family. “It is affecting me and my whole family,” said Shayla. “It’s getting harder to lie and tell my little brother that his dad is still just at work.”

Joining the campaign was a group of labor advocates that swelled the numbers, normally in the 10-15 range at previous rallies, to more than 100 marching through the street. Groups supporting Esquivel-Hernandez now include the Thomas Merton Center, Fight for $15, Casa San Jose and Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network. Kai Pang, of labor-coalition Pittsburgh United, said that labor supports all workers, including the undocumented.

“It’s more urgent than ever for us to protect the immigrant community, since there is a lot of uncertainty moving forward,” said Pang before the rally. “I feel compelled to stand with the most vulnerable, and I know a lot of people in the labor movement feel the same way too.”

However, LCLAA's Perez is concerned about Esquivel-Hernandez and other undocumented immigrants moving forward because of the campaign promises of President-elect Donald Trump. "What we face before us is concerning to say the least," said Perez. "The president-elect waged a campaign based on racism and xenophobia."

Trump has since walked back promises of a deportation force to round up and deport all 11 million or so undocumented immigrants, but other immigration policies are uncertain. But Esquivel-Hernandez does have an ally in the federal government with U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills).

Doyle sent a representative to the march to offer support for the Esquivel-Hernandez family. “Congressman Doyle wanted to express his support, and he appreciates the role Martin has played in the community,” said Bridget Barrett of Doyle’s office.

Perez capped the rally with a typical chant used when communities advocate for Latino undocumented immigrants who face deportation. “Aqui estamos, y no nos vamos,” said Perez. We are here, and we are not going anywhere.

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