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Crowds Fill Pittsburgh Streets After Biden Wins Presidency

After days of tension as Americans awaited the results of the Presidential election, Pittsburgh streets erupted in cheers shortly after Democrat Joe Biden was declared the winner. What was originally organized as a “Count the Votes” rally by Pennsylvania United became a victory celebration as hundreds of people marched down East Carson Street on the South Side singing, cheering, chanting and dancing.

Around 1 p.m. groups gathered outside of Democratic Congressman Mike Doyle’s South Side office with banners and floats that read, “Count our Votes” and “You Can’t Stop the Revolution.”

Labor unions like United Steelworkers, SEIU 32BJ and SEIU Healthcare PA joined activist groups like One Pennsylvania, the Alliance for Police Accountability, Pittsburgh I Can’t Breathe and Trans YOUniting. Also present were members of the Women and Girls Foundation, the Pittsburgh Socialist Alternative and the Allegheny County Green Party.

Pennsylvania state House Reps. Summer Lee and Ed Gainey kicked off the hours-long rally by applauding the organizing efforts by those groups to get out the vote.

The rally was originally organized to call for every single vote to be counted before a Presidential winner was declared -- in opposition to President Trump's demand that votes received after election day be disqualified. One Pennsylvania organized a similar rally earlier this week

Jennifer Rafanan Kennedy, executive director of Pennsylvania United, said shining a spotlight on the importance of Allegheny County votes, and Black voters in particular, was still a main message for the day. The eyes of the nation watched Pennsylvania flip blue as more votes for President-elect Biden came in from Allegheny County, Philadelphia and Erie County.

Pennsylvania was called for Biden by The Associated Press around 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Allegheny County elections workers continued counting ballots while Pittsburghers celebrated in the streets.

The march left Congressman Mike Doyle’s office to head down East Carson Street and across the 10th Street Bridge. Dozens of organizers and activists spoke along the route. The march paused at the City-County building downtown where a “Stop the Steal” rally took place with pro-Trump protesters calling on elections workers to stop counting certain ballots a mere 24 hours prior.

Nearly every speaker warned that work remains to be done to achieve policy goals for which the labor and activist groups present advocate. Calls for a $15 minimum wage and universal healthcare were met with cheers and drumming by the crowd.

In a speech downtown, Monica Ruiz, executive director of Casa San Jose, said to a raucous crowd, “Today we celebrate, but tomorrow we’ve got work to do.” 

The rally ended around 4:30 p.m. 

Similar celebrations took place in other Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Crowds held signs, danced and cheered in Squirrel Hill and Regent Square Saturday. 

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.