Originally published by
Torchlight — Anarchist News from Pittsburgh
Friday saw more protests over the police murder of Antwon Rose in East Pittsburgh. The evening’s action started conventionally enough, meeting at the Wood Street subway station downtown at 5:30, and stepping off around 6. At least 200 people took the streets, marching slowly through downtown and stopping frequently to block intersections while holding speakouts. A trailing caravan of cops accompanied the march, but they weren’t doing anything yet. More cops on motorcycles circled, blocking off intersections as marchers approached, and causing even further disruption to rush hour traffic.
From downtown protesters made their way over the Sixth Street bridge toward PNC Park, where a Pirates game was getting under way. After stopping on the bridge, and again in front of the left field entrance, to give the fans an earful, marchers took General Robinson over to the Seventh Street bridge and back downtown for what was meant to be the finale. Surrounded by police vehicles in Market Square, almost exactly two hours after first taking to the street, organizers with bullhorns led the group in chants of “We’ll be back! We’ll be back!”, clearly intending to send everyone home.
It didn’t quite work out that way. While some people drifted off, a smaller but highly determined group closed ranks and headed back out. Brandi Fisher and another woman with a megaphone held them up at the edge of Liberty Avenue to make a long passive-aggressive speech about how people could do what they wanted, BUT the cops had tear gas, and they should think of the children, and they were all likely to get arrested. The crowd listened respectfully until the speeches were over, and then rolled out onto Liberty.
They headed back toward the ballpark, at the same slow pace, and with the same police accompaniment, but the target was a little different. Instead of taking a different bridge back to town the march kept going on General Robinson toward the I-279 on ramp. Our correspondent takes up the tale:
“I ended up staying with a smaller group who didn’t want to take the highway, so we hung back to blockade the intersection at General Robinson and River Street. A couple of motorcycle cops stayed with us, and a legal observer came running back from the main group a few minutes later. We had just enough people to hold the blockade, so we did that for a while and then headed north past the Giant Eagle and kept going on Cedar. When we got to East Ohio we found a pleasant surprise – the main group, who had gotten off the highway at the East Ohio exit and come back to us. I swear it was bigger than when it left. I don’t know if people just jumped in off the sidewalk, or some of the folks who had left earlier came back or what, but either way our numbers were back close to what we started with.
We stayed at East Ohio and Cedar for a while blocking the intersection. A couple of big vans full of riot cops pulled up, and the cops got out and lined up in two columns looking menacing. That was it though. When we started moving again they had to stuff themselves back in the vans before they could follow us. We had about ten minutes with no cops except a couple of motorcycles and a few really obvious undercovers who had been tagging along all night.”
The march arrived back at the ballpark in the top of the 11th inning of a 0-0 game between Pittsburgh and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and promptly blockaded the intersection at General Robinson and Federal. The riot cops did the same thing they had at East Ohio, and had an even longer delay following the march when it moved down to the home plate entrance. They still hadn’t caught up by the time the march continued to the parking garage on General Robinson. Our correspondent again:
“It was really confused. People were yelling about splitting up to blockade both entrances to the garage. A few people went around the corner and pulled some loose crowd control barrier fence sections into the street. Some asshole in a black Mercedes pushed through the crowd and turned the corner with a bunch of people screaming and hitting the car. Other people at the barriers picked them up to swing at the car, which actually made it easier for the asshole to break through and escape. A couple of cops came running up on foot but all they did was put the barriers back on the sidewalk. It was really lucky nobody got hurt.”
The game was finally over by the time the police arrived in force, but many of the fans stayed in the park for Fireworks Night. The riot cops piled out of their vans yet again, and arranged themselves in a diagonal line across the intersection of General Robinson and Dorsett, blockading it more thoroughly than the march had. Marchers held their ground, lining up across both streets facing the cops. A rear line of foot cops, sans helmets, stood facing away from the protesters toward a couple of drunk white guys yelling on the sidewalk, as the fireworks began to go off in the background. A tense standoff persisted throughout the fireworks display and continued as the crowd leaving PNC Park began to thin out. By that time Pittsburgh police chief Scott Schubert was on the scene, as was a contingent of Pennsylvania state police. A line of cop cars stretched all the way back to the ballpark, and news crews were posted up wherever they could get a good view.
And finally, the marchers did again what they had proven adept at all night – moving on just as it looked like the cops were maybe going to do something. This time though, it was really over. Marchers filtered out past the cops on the sidewalk and took the street again near home plate entrance, but the chanting was quieter, and there were no more blockades. By midnight everyone arrived back at Market Square and dispersed.
*the image below should read East Pittsburgh police officer…