Peace rally in Homewood supplants canceled alt-right protest at Google office
More than 300 people marched peacefully in Pittsburgh on Saturday in response to a planned free-speech protest by the alt-right movement of Google offices in Bakery Square.
The marchers walked from North Homewood Avenue to Westinghouse Park, also offering support to those in Pittsburgh's black community.
The march started with a moment of silence to remember those in the community who have been killed.
Brittani Murray, a native of Lincoln-Lemington, and Felicity Williams of Wilkinsburg organized the rally for Black Brilliance Collective even though the alt-right demonstration outside Google's offices in Bakery Square was canceled.
Murray speculated that alt-right organizers looked only for the location of Google's offices, not understanding the nearby neighborhood welcomes all races.
“We want to let the community know we are here,” said Murray, adding that she wanted the march to take away the attention the alt-right group was receiving.
At the same time, a group of protesters were standing across the street from Bakery Square sending their own message to the alt-right activists.
“If these guys show up, we just want to let them know they are not welcomed in Pittsburgh,” said a member of Keystone Anti-Racist Action, who would not give his name.
A small group of people, at least one carrying a flag and another with a semi-automatic rifle, stood quietly nearby, making no effort to confront the marchers.
During the march in Homewood, participants chanted “Black lives, they matter here”; “This is what liberation looks like”; and, in response to a leader's question, “Whose streets?” they answered, “Our streets.”
Westinghouse Park was the ending spot for the march because it's a place that black people don't always get to enjoy because they have police called on them, Murray said.
“We wanted to give them a good time,” Murray said.
After the march, participants were invited to eat there together.
Members of the media were asked to stay outside the park and not talk to participants.
Murray said she was in constant communication with Pittsburgh police about the march preparations. Murray said she hopes that type of communication continues.
“Our main goal is to break bread, enjoy the park, listen to music, dance and have fun,” Williams said.
Murray said she will consider the event a success if black people feel safe in their community and their voices have been heard.