From Mt. Washington To Market Square, Hundreds 'Stand For Each Other' During Peaceful Protest

Jun 7, 2020

Chanting the names of black men and women killed by law enforcement, hundreds gathered to march Sunday from Mt. Washington to Market Square.

“We stand for each other,” Harmony Clemons, 6, said into a megaphone at one of the overlooks. “Are we gonna let them shoot us down? ... I’m proud to have everybody here. Almost everybody in the town!”

Honey Clemmons, 6, raises her fist while her mother, Dasia, speaks on Mt. Washington. Dasia Clemmons is one of the founders of the group Pittsburgh, I Can't Breathe, which organized the Sunday demonstration.
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Harmony joined her mother, Dasia, the founder of the group Pittsburgh, I Can’t Breathe, which has organized a number of demonstrations throughout the city. The railings leading up to the gathering site included dozens of pictures and stories of black men and women killed by law enforcement. White balloons were also affixed to the railings, which organizers asked participants to write the names of such individuals on and later tie to the Smithfield Street Bridge.

“The message is to remember the lives lost due to police brutality,” Dasia Clemons said. “Not just know them as a victim, but as people that they were and the people that they were gonna be.”

As has become the norm at such events, organizers emphasized that the demonstration was meant to be peaceful and that police specifically asked people not to enter the Liberty Tunnels or bridge as they marched down PJ McArdle Roadway. 

This was the ninth consecutive day of protests in Pittsburgh following the death of George Floyd under the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Organizer Kyna James said the demonstration’s growing numbers showed that people want change within law enforcement.

“We’re just tired. Just tired of dying, ya know?” James said. “It’s not just about police brutality. We want the Constitution changed. We want the Bill of Rights changed. We just wanna live, man, and be equal.”

As the marchers passed the Liberty Tunnels, Pittsburgh Police officers with face shields stood in front of the tunnels and the Liberty Bridge was blocked off by barricades.

At the intersection of PJ McArdle Roadway and Arlington Avenue, demonstrators sat down, while organizers asked the crowd to speak about their personal experiences with police brutality.
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The group reconvened at the intersection of PJ McArdle Roadway and Arlington Avenue, where they staged a sit-in. While people sat, organizers asked anyone in the crowd to share their experience with police brutality. One man, who did not identify himself, saying “it doesn’t matter,” in reference to the shared experience of black people, spoke about being at Monday’s rally in East Liberty, where police threw tear gas at protesters.

“This needs to end,” he said. “When you leave today, you need to write a letter to your congressman, the mayor, your local politicians, this needs to change.”

Voting was brought up often during the demonstration, with organizers stressing the power of the ballot box. 

A woman ties a balloon to the railing of the Smithfield Street Bridge. The balloons had the names of black people killed by law enforcement.
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

  Around 7 p.m., the group began to cross the Smithfield Street Bridge, tying the aforementioned balloons to the side. Throughout, they sang the historic protest song “Which Side Are You On?” often including the name of Antwon Rose II, a black teenager killed by East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld in 2018. Rosfeld was charged with first and third-degree murder and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter but acquitted on all counts.

Pennsylvania State Police troopers were stationed near the ramp to I-376, but there were no interactions with protesters.

The event ended around 8 p.m., with organizers thanking participants.