Downtown’s protest was the fifth consecutive Civil Saturdays, organized by Pittsburgh’s Black, Young, & Educated, a youth-led protest held every Saturday, calling for the amendment of PA Section 508 (use of force in law enforcement).
At least 300 joined the 3 p.m. protest, despite a week-long order placed by the county on Friday evening, cancelling all events over 25 people. Attendees at today’s protest were asked to wear black for “Pittsburgh’s Black Out.”
Chants included cries of “Protect Black women!” and “Black people used to live here,” as protesters marched down Liberty Avenue past the August Wilson African American Cultural Center.
Tensions, however, became high when protesters blocked a police van that tried to enter a circle of protesters near the Fort Pitt Bridge on-ramp. Police inside the van proceeded to put on riot gear and exited the van. Police then created a line in front of the protesters, holding up batons, and at least one officer then removed a canister of pepper spray from his person and held it up to a protester. Police told protesters they could not enter the Fort Pitt Bridge.
Police did not end up using any chemical deterrents, and the event ended without incident. The protest continued, circling back to Market Square before dispersing shortly after 7 p.m. when organizers asked everyone to bring a friend with them next weekend.
Saturday’s march was held on the Fourth of July holiday, following a 10 a.m. counter-protest to a Trump Boat Rally attended by some of the same protesters.