By Nick Eustis
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer
Hundreds of Pittsburghers gathered Downtown today (June 4) to protest the death of George Floyd, for the fourth consecutive days of demonstrations in the city. The protest began as a memorial service for Floyd was ongoing in Minneapolis.
Protesters assembled near Wood Street Station in the hour before the scheduled 2 p.m. start time. Protest organizers led the crowd into the streets, chanting “no justice, no peace.” The protest began as a crowd of approximately 200, and grew in size as it went on.
The march began down Liberty Avenue, briefly proceeding through Sixth Avenue before turning onto Smithfield Street. The crowd boomed “George Floyd,” “Breonna Taylor,” and “Antwon Rose” in response to calls of “say their names.”
The organizers of the protest staged sit-ins at two intersections along that route, speaking to the crowd about the mission of the protest and how to stay safe. They called for an end to police brutality against people of color, as well as increased accountability and oversight of police. Some of the speakers identified themselves as members of “Pittsburgh I Can’t Breathe,” a grassroots organization that coordinated protests earlier this week.
“We aren’t here just for George Floyd, we’re here for everyone who has received racial injustice,” said one speaker.
From Smithfield Street, the march continued down Boulevard of the Allies and Second Avenue to the Allegheny County Jail. Once there, all the protesters laid on the ground for several minutes. Organizers led the marchers in song, followed by a moment for silence and remembrance.
From the County Jail, the marchers crossed the 10th Street Bridge to the Southside Flats, moving down East Carson Street. Another sit-in was held at the intersection of East Carson and South 18th Street, where organizers led chants saying “it is our duty to fight for our freedom,” and “we have nothing to lose but our chains.”
“We’re not scared of them, we’re scared of living in a racist America,” said another speaker. “We’re sending a message right now.”
The crowd resumed marching across the Birmingham Bridge and turned on Fifth Avenue heading toward downtown. At this point, dark clouds that had been looming overhead opened up and heavy rain came down on the protest. The bad weather, however, did not dampen the spirits of the marchers, who cheered as thunder cracked and used their signs as makeshift umbrellas.
The march proceeded from Fifth Avenue onto Sixth, which eventually led the protest back to its starting point at Wood Street Station. The organizers led a final round of chants before the protest was declared over. From there, the crowd quickly dispersed without incident.
Police were present throughout the protest, blocking off side streets and following behind the march, but were unobtrusive. The attitude among the protesters was that of support and camaraderie, with some carrying backpacks full of water bottles and snacks for those who needed them. The protest was entirely peaceful and without incident.