Pittsburghers gather to decry Charlottesville deaths, violence
Hundreds of people turned out Sunday in Pittsburgh to show solidarity with protesters killed and injured over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va., where rallying white supremacists clashed with counter-demonstrators and one woman and two police officers died.
"I don't believe in white supremacy. They should cease to exist," said Lindsay Cashman of Mt. Lebanon, who attended a vigil at Schenley Plaza in Oakland with her husband, Christian, and their 14-month-old child. "That extremism needs to be dismantled. I'd like to see a better future for our child where all are respected."
More than 350 people attended the candlelight vigil organized by a group called the Democratic Socialists of America.
Organizers in cities across the country — among them Austin, Charlotte, N.C., Cincinnati, Minneapolis, San Diego and Washington — hosted similar vigils.
A Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Janet Edwards, drew thunderous applause when she said the church, in general, is guilty of not stopping racism.
"The silence of the church in this moment today after yesterday is a grievous sin — a blot — on the church. It is time for us to speak up," Edwards said.
Pat O'Malley of Brentwood wore a T-shirt that read: "I can't believe I still have to protest this stuff."
She said she was "heartsick" about what happened Saturday in Charlottesville.
"White people have to do better," she said. "Most aren't racists, but they need to do better. They need to step forward."
O'Malley, a blogger, wore a button calling for justice for Johnny Gammage, a black motorist who died Oct. 2, 1995, after being stopped for driving erratically by police from Brentwood, Baldwin and Whitehall. No one was convicted in Gammage's death, which was blamed on police brutality.
Earlier Sunday evening, nearly 200 people gathered in Market Square, Downtown, to show support for the Charlottesville victims.
White nationalists demonstrating about city plans to remove Civil War-era monuments clashed with protesters in the Virginia college town Saturday. The confrontation turned deadly, police said, when a man rammed a Dodge Challenger into a crowd of marchers, killing one woman and injuring at least 19 others.
James Alex Fields Jr., 20, who recently moved to Ohio from Kentucky, is charged with second-degree murder and other counts.
Two Virginia state troopers died when a helicopter that had been monitoring the rally crashed.
"It's always tragic to have a loss of life, but we are also going in a direction ... of people who are unable to be tolerant and that's against the American process," Wasi Mohamed, executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, said at the Downtown event.
Karen Hochberg of Wilkinsburg also challenged people to act: "I'm here because if we do not stand up, we fall for anything later. We need respect and communication to return."
Sheila May-Stein, a teacher from Greenfield, held a sign that read: "White silence equals white violence."
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or email@example.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.