Pitt administrators and Pittsburgh Police issue alerts ahead of Trump events

Two hours before the doors open, more than 200 people wait in line to see Donald Trump speak at Soldiers and Sailors Museum on April 13, 2016. Theo Schwarz | Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt administrators and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police have sent out alerts to students on campus and citizens who plan to attend the events or travel through Oakland and Downtown.

Ahead of Donald Trump’s two-event stop in Pittsburgh later this evening, several activist groups have said they plan to protest, and at least one pro-Trump group will openly carry rifles in support of the candidate.

Trump is expected to host a town-hall style event with Fox News host Sean Hannity at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Oakland at 5:30 p.m. and a rally at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Downtown at 7 p.m.

A Reddit post on Tuesday said a “Pittsburgh Open-Carry” group would gather at Mazeroski Field in Oakland Wednesday afternoon with AR-15 and AK-47 assault rifles. The post said “roving support units” would travel around Oakland to keep roads open to supporters.

In a statement issued Wednesday morning, Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said Pittsburgh police are monitoring social media comments and threats and will respond to them on a case-by-case basis.

Hissrich said the department of public safety, which includes the police, has a plan in place to deal with any emergency situations.

“We will be executing that plan with the same crowd management philosophy that we always use, which includes protecting constitutional rights,” Hissrich said.

In an email to students Tuesday evening, Kathy Humphrey, Pitt’s senior vice chancellor for engagement and chief of staff, said administrators were aware of the possibility of a group openly carrying firearms near campus.

According to Pennsylvania law, citizens may openly carry firearms on public property, but not on private property.

Humphrey said Pitt expects any demonstrators carrying firearms “will abide by the law and remain off private property, which includes University of Pittsburgh campus areas.”  

Because the events will incur heavy traffic and parking restrictions, Humphrey also said students and faculty should accommodate one another who have trouble getting to class on time.

“We are confident that all of our community will act in accordance with the law and exercise mutual respect and a concern for others,” Humphrey said.

Several activist groups, including Pitt student groups, also issued formal notices of planned protest both in Oakland and Downtown.

In an email Wednesday morning, Ben Fiorillo, a representative of WHAT’S UP Pittsburgh, an anti-racism group, said members of WHAT’S UP, Fossil Free Pitt Coalition, and The Fourth Wave, will meet outside the Frick Fine Arts Building in Oakland for a family-friendly peaceful protest and art-sharing event called “Love Trumps Hate” at 2:30 p.m.

Fiorillo said student groups will gather with community members at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard to protest Trump’s appearance with Sean Hannity at Soldiers and Sailors Hall.

Then, at 5:30 p.m., Fiorillo said WHAT’S UP Pittsburgh will gather at the corner of Liberty Avenue and Grant Street Downtown. Another group led by the ANSWER Coalition, an anti-war and racism group, will meet at 12th Street and Smallman Street at the same time.


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