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Mellon clears path for Occupied marchers to gather in park

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By Bill Vidonic
Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011

BNY Mellon said Friday it won't block Occupy Pittsburgh from accessing the banking company's Mellon Green park during today's protests.

"We support the right of the marchers to be heard," company spokeswoman Lane Cigna said, adding, "We trust they will be peaceful and respectful."

It was unclear what would happen if the protesters conduct a long-term occupation of the park, which is private property.

Protesters vowed this week to occupy the park beginning at 4 p.m. today, mirroring protests in New York City and other cities across the country.

BNY Mellon employees yesterday erected fences around the park's fountain and between grassy areas and sidewalks, though they didn't install fencing along Grant Street.

"We have introduced a modest safety buffer to facilitate employee access to our buildings and public access to the subway," Cigna said.

BNY Mellon is just one of the financial and health care companies Occupy Pittsburgh is targeting for protest.

The local group is an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, which has been protesting for a month what participants call corporate greed and other social problems. Some of the protests have resulted in confrontations with police and scores of arrests.

Marchers will rally beginning at 11 a.m. at Freedom Corner in the Hill District, then march Downtown; they will stop at BNY Mellon Center, the U.S. Steel Tower, 1 PNC Plaza and the Federal Reserve, before a 1:30 p.m. rally in Market Square.

PNC Bank spokesman Fred Solomon said his company isn't planning any special security measures.

"We are confident the city of Pittsburgh and its police force will manage the situation well," he said.

Sections of metal fencing were stacked along Grant Street at the U.S. Steel Tower, headquarters of UPMC, but the fencing hadn't been erected as of last night.

Megan Flynn, manager of Damon's in U.S. Steel Tower, said that building security there asked the restaurant to take tables off an outdoor patio as a safety measure.

Organizers said they are expecting up to 3,000 participants and vowed the protests would not be violent.

A memo Thursday from the Pittsburgh Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security said, "The overall threat for this event in Pittsburgh is limited at this time," but it urged businesses to be vigilant.

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