March On Google Postponed, But Activists And Community Members Met To Prepare
UPDATE: The March on Google, which was scheduled to take place outside of Google's Pittsburgh campus at Bakery Square Saturday, has been postponed. Organizers posted online early Wednesday that it was on hold due to "Alt Left Terrorist threats."
Self-described "new right" activist Jack Posobiec organized the march. Posobiec is known for pushing conspiracy theories, such as PizzaGate and the murder of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer.
Black Pittsburgh activists are still working to formulate a plan of action moving forward.
Several hundred Pittsburgh activists attended a meeting Tuesday evening to come up with a response to the March on Google, which had been scheduled to take place at the company’s Bakery Square offices Saturday.
The meeting at the Kingsley Association in Larimer centered on ideas and concerns generated by the black community, and neighbors who live in the surrounding area.
The purpose of the meeting was not to plan a “counter protest” organizers said, but to discuss preparedness and safety should the Saturday event escalate, and to plan a response if the community voted in favor of one.
The March on Google was being organized in several cities nationwide, and promoted as a response to Google's firing of engineer James Damore, who was terminated earlier this month over an internal workplace memo some considered hostile to the tech company's diversity efforts.
Self-described "new right" activist Jack Posobiec called for the protests before last weekend's clashes between alt-right demonstrators and counter-protestors in Charlottesville, Va. On the Google March's website, Posobiec disavowed violence and said the protest is not an alt-right event, describing it instead as a "First Amendment" demonstration.
Pittsburgh organizer Felicity Williams, one of a number of black women heading the safety meeting, said they must be prepared to deal with potential conflict with white supremacists at the Google protest. She said organizing in Pittsburgh began immediately after Charlottesville.
“I think if this is not a wakeup call to people going forward, I don’t know what will be,” said Williams.
Many attendees at the meeting voiced concern about confrontations spilling into the predominantly black neighborhoods that surround Bakery Square.
“We want to make sure that those people are not allowed or are unable to gain access to our communities, because we want to make sure that everybody is safe,” said activist and organizer Daeja Baker.
There was a clear divide amongst the meetings' attendees about what actions should be taken. Some said they remember the Ku Klux Klan rally that was held in downtown Pittsburgh in 1997, and believe any white supremacists should be met head on. Others said conflict only serves the alt-right’s strategy, and attention should be deflected from the protest.
Organizers are preparing for both.
Legal observers will also be on site at the planned Google protest, and other black-centered events are scheduled in different parts of the city Saturday. Williams and Baker said they are working with surrounding businesses, the city, and law enforcement to prepare for any potential conflict.
*UPDATED: Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017 to reflect that the march has been postponed.