The protest, which had a majority white crowd, aimed to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and advocate for reforming and/or defunding the police. The crowd swelled at around 500 people. More so than other protests this past week, this one honored Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police officers in Louisville in March. Today would have been her 27th birthday.
After starting in Friendship Park, the protesters marched down Liberty Avenue through Bloomfield. The march was led by a few organizers, along with two sign language interpreters. There were legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild, designated medics sporting red crosses, and people passing out water and snacks. Overall, the protest was peaceful, and there was little intervention from police.
The protest then headed down S. Aiken Avenue, through Shadyside, before turning onto Walnut Street. The commercial street is lined with high-end retail stores, like Lululemon, Sephora, and Williams-Sonoma, which had all boarded up their windows at the beginning of the week, presumably fearing looting or vandalism. On Walnut Street, protesters sat down on the road and held an eight-minute moment of silence. It was silent, except for the noise from two helicopters circling above.
The protesters then walked down Fifth Avenue, before turning onto Beechwood Blvd in Point Breeze. The crowd, which had picked up people as it marched through residential streets, stopped to gather at the Lyndhurst Green. Throughout the protests, there were chants of Breonna Taylor's name, as well as George Floyd and other victims of police brutality. While gathered at the park, a Black speaker asked all Black protesters to come to the front of the crowd, before laying a memorial for Taylor by laying down flowers and lighting a candle. Organizers then read off names of dozens of Black women who have been killed by police brutality in recent years.
The march continued down Reynolds Street, where most local retailers walked outside and showed solidarity with the protesters. The crowd then turned onto a residential street in Point Breeze where Peduto resides. Speaking to the crowd, organizers criticized Peduto for his response to protests, including his denial that the Pittsburgh Police escalated the situation at the protests on Monday night.
Yesterday, Peduto announced his endorsement of police reforms, including the 8 Can't Wait campaign and implicit bias trainer. An organizer yelled, "That's still not good enough!"
The leaders called for stronger changes, including defunding the police and immediately firing any police officer involved in an incident of brutality.
While the protesters walked back to Lyndhurst Green, where protesters dispersed peacefully, the crowd sang, "Antwon Rose was a freedom fighter and he taught us how to fight." This month marks the two-year anniversary of when 17-year-old was shot in the back by local police.