Cleanup crews got to work all over Downtown Pittsburgh on Sunday morning to remove debris, spray paint and broken glass. Public Works and Pittsburgh citizens scrubbed graffiti from statues, windows and buildings.
Hours earlier, a once peaceful protest against police brutality in response to the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd turned violent. Police cars were set on fire and officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. A curfew went into effect from 8:30 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday. According to Pittsburgh Public Safety, 43 adults and one juvenile were arrested.
Many of the businesses that had been vandalized and looted Saturday evening were boarded up by mid-morning on Sunday.
A grassroots group organized on Reddit by Jon Potter, founder of Pittsburgh Good Deeds, showed up to help at 9 a.m. About 60 people swept up glass and scrubbed graffiti from windows and buildings, according to Potter.
“This isn’t really a political statement… this is just a bunch of neighbors,” he said. “I don’t even know what these people’s political affiliations are. Anyone and everyone can come down and be a good neighbor and help clean up.”
Governor Tom Wolf signed a disaster emergency declaration Saturday evening to provide assistance to municipalities as they respond to the escalation of protests in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
The declaration authorizes the Adjutant General of the PA National Guard and the Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner to activate personnel and use resources to confront threats to public health and safety.