Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto met with the city’s public safety director, police chief and commander of special deployment Thursday to set a standard operating procedure for de-escalating public protests.
The meeting came after protesters took to the streets in Downtown and Oakland Wednesday in response to Donald Trump winning the presidency. Peduto joined protesters downtown, arm-in-arm, telling them to respect the win, but to not stop the battle for, “building a compassionate city.”
Later in the evening, officers wearing riot gear used smoke bombs to disperse protesters in East Liberty. Peduto said he disagreed with the tactic.
“If there’s ever a time when there is a right for people to assemble, which is a constitutional right, it’s the day after an election,” he said. “And there’s no indication that there was anything violent or anything else. These were kids that were marching and demonstrating the First Amendment of this country and there was no need to use smoke and there was no need to use a helmet.”
The protest came one day after former Police Chief Cameron McLay left the force.
“If there was ever a chance where the optics look horrible about what direction this bureau will be taking, it was on that one day when after all of the protests we’ve gone through for three years, we’ve never had to escalate to that situation,” he said.
Peduto said he apologized to Clarence Trapp, commander of special deployment, Thursday for the harsh tone he took with him during the protest in East Liberty.
“I was hot last night,” he said.
Peduto said there would be no discipline surrounding the incident, but he still disagrees about the use of riot gear. He said there has to be something to warrant the approach.
No one was arrested in relation to either protest.