David Zak didn't know Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was supposed to speak in Pittsburgh today. The 33-year-old Friendship resident said he ran into protesters while walking to work Downtown and felt compelled to follow the action.
"I've never actually been this radical before," he said. "But I think this his happening for a reason."
Zak was one of nearly 200 protesters advocating for fair wages, social justice and environmental responsibility outside the Duquesne Club along Sixth Avenue on Thursday just hours after Trump's keynote address at the Shale Insight conference held this week at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Economics worried 57-year-old Janet Lundy of Squirrel Hill. An economist herself, she said if Trump implements his promised trade plans, it could be detrimental to the U.S. economy.
"America's such a huge part of the worldwide economy. We raise tariffs, everyone raises tariffs in opposition and prosperity just crumbles," Lundy said. "I mean, there's a whole cascade of terrible things that would happen."
Protesters shouting, "No KKK, no racist USA, no Trump." pic.twitter.com/bsWTuhM4IA
— Katie Blackley (@kate_blackley) September 22, 2016
Environmental advocacy group NextGen Climate provided attendees t-shirts reading "Climate is my Candidate." They also distributed hats in a similar style to Trump's "Make America Great Again" that read instead,"Stop Trump Vote Climate."
Western Pennsylvania Political Director Lindsay Patross, 36, of Shadyside, criticized the environmental policies proposed by Senator Pat Toomey and Trump, saying their election would reverse the region's progress in air and water quality.
"Western Pennsylvania has become a cleaner, greener place to live and we don't want to see a Trump/Toomey agenda that takes us backwards to the days when we had to turn the streetlights on during the day because of the pollution."
Frank Ashbaugh, 64, of Leetsdale said when Trump talks about minority groups, it reminds him of another former head of state.
"His willingness to deport millions of people is similar to Hitler rounding up millions of Jews and other people," Ashbaugh said. "I believe some of the polices this man promotes are fascist in nature."
Protesters gathered early outside the convention center around 11:30 a.m., later marching south on Penn Avenue toward Downtown and stopping at the intersection of Wood Street and Sixth Avenue. Several protesters sat in the middle of the street chanting, "No Trump, no KKK, no racist USA."
After his speech at Shale Insight, Trump held a fundraiser at the Duquesne Club on Sixth Avenue.
Protesters swarmed outside and attempted to edge closer to the building. The Allegheny County Police Mounted Unit blocked the group from entering until additional officers in riot gear arrived.
No injuries were reported during the protest and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police reported a 63-year-old man was the only individual arrested.