Baseless Protest over Trump’s fading presidency Turns into an Example of Proper De-escalation

By November 6, 2020 November 8th, 2020 No Comments

Protesters clash Downtown Friday afternoon. (Current Photo by Ed Thompson)

By Dannys Marrero
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer

Friday afternoon, two protests collided on the steps of the City-County Building causing a big response from Pittsburgh Police.

At 2 p.m., local Trump supporters gathered Downtown at the Pittsburgh City-County Building demanding the halt of ballot counting in the area. The small group of about 20 supporters held a few “Trump 2020” flags and signs that read “Count Legal Votes.”

“We are going to stop the steal,” said Danny DeVito, one of the protest organizers and losing candidate for Pa. House District 45.  “If legal votes are counted President Trump cannot lose. If they count fraudulent ballots Biden steals the election.”

Devito’s unsubstantiated comments parrot those made by President Donald Trump in the past few days, claiming the election is being stolen despite any evidence to support his claims.

As of this afternoon, Joe Biden holds a 14,512-vote lead over Trump in Pennsylvania, according to the Associated Press. This lead is only expected to increase, according to Bethany Hallam, Allegheny Councilor At-Large, there are still thousands of mail-in ballots and provisional ballots left to count in Allegheny County. The same is true statewide.

DeVito continued to make other baseless accusations about Biden, including that he was being controlled by George Soros and was “a puppet for the communist Chinese.” This is the same kind of nonsensical jibberish that right-wing conspiracy theorists and blind followers of the President have been spouting for months. 

At 2:29 p.m. a counter-protest marched onto the steps of the City-County Building and quickly clashed against the Pro-Trump crowd as they chanted, “no Trump, no K-K-K, no racist USA.” Tensions continued to spike for a few minutes as both sides faced off, screaming back and forth, refusing to acknowledge each other’s points of view.

Pittsburgh Police arrived on the scene shortly after and stood around the gaggle, seemingly not knowing what to do next. However, at 2:45 p.m., more than 70 Pittsburgh Police officers arrived on the scene in full riot gear and quickly moved to push the counter-protesters away from the Trump supporters and onto Grant Street.

Current Photo by Ed Thompson

“This is why we can’t ever get anything done,” said Gam, one of the most well-known Queer activists in the City “Because all [Pittsburgh Police] does is turn on us and antagonize us.”

As the barricade of Police officers stood between the two parties, Gam became engaged in a very thorough conversation with Christopher Eryx, another protest organizer. 

“We just want the counting of the ballots received before or on election day,” said Eryx in an interview “It’s election Day, not election week.” 

Countless numbers of Trump supporters and the president himself, have made this statement many times since Nov. 3. However, there have been countless instances of this happening. Most famously during the 2000 election when a winner wasn’t declared for 36 days.

At one point, Eryx stood at the other side of the barricade and was the only one engaging in conversation. The ever-so-shifting conversation talked about Donald Trump, the Democratic Party, the counting of ballots, and the economy.

“Why did no one ever call Donald Trump a racist before he took office?” asked Eryx when Gam and other counter-protesters moved to call out the President.

As the conversation continued and tensions began to escalate, the Pro-Trump protesters dispersed from the steps of the City-County building, leaving Eryx alone. It was not until 3:16 p.m., more than 30-minutes after the riot squad marched in, that a Civil Affairs unit arrived on the scene. Gam continued, ignoring both Pittsburgh Police and Civil Affairs, until they invited the Trump supporter to move away from the scene into a quieter area, to which Eryx agreed.

Both individuals circled around the barricade of police officers and walked toward a nearby Starbucks, side-by-side. After an hour of constant conversation, both parties seemed to have set aside their differences and moved to converse about a way to heal the country, through conversation.

“You are not a bad guy,” said Gam “I just know there is a level of growth that you need to hit. You’re a good dude, continue to be a good dude.”

“You’re good too,” Eryx returned.

At 3:48 p.m., the two finished their conversation on good terms and parted ways. Pittsburgh Police and all remaining protesters dispersed. No arrests were made, and two clashing ideologies seemed to have found common ground.

Pro-Trump Protester Christopher Eryx talks with Gam, a BLM protester, following Friday’s protest. (Current Photo by Ed Thompson)

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