Protesters march to Pittsburgh mayor's office, demand racial justice
The singing, chanting protesters who marched from the Allegheny County Courthouse courtyard to a sit-in outside the Pittsburgh mayor's office on Wednesday said they didn't get much response from public officials to their demands for racial justice.
“We didn't expect much response,” said Nazura Asaseyeduru, 35, of Pittsburgh, who said she attended the rally on behalf of the National Black United Front. The black nationalist group formed in Brooklyn in the 1970s and is headquartered in Chicago. It established a Pittsburgh chapter in March.
Organizers linked the march to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida. They issued 14 demands, including that the city renounce “state-sanctioned murder.”
Dozens of protesters carried signs denouncing white supremacy, patriarchy and racism.
In the hallway outside the Mayor's Office and City Council chambers, they sang and chanted for the mayor to appear.
Jim Sheppard, a special assistant to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, told the crowd the mayor would not be able to meet with them.
“That's the problem!” one protester shouted.
Another commented: “You've got all these police here to protect the mayor.”
Uniformed officers, including a sergeant wearing a bulletproof vest, stood watch at the glass entrance to Ravenstahl's office, and several others stood behind the crowd and at elevators.
Public Safety Director Michael Huss briefly met with one of the organizers in the mayor's conference room.
Council President Darlene Harris accepted the group's list of demands, promising she “will pass it along” and consider something to put before council, though she stopped short of agreeing to present the entire list. A heckler told her: “To do nothing is racism.”
Members of groups that call themselves Pittsburgh for Trayvon, New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice, Pittsburgh Defending Black Bodies and Pittsburgh Standing our Ground, composed the list. It included demands that the city denounce the state's version of a stand-your-ground law, support development in predominantly black communities and provide greater access to fresh food in poorer neighborhoods, among other things.