The Pitt News

Hundreds protest Trump, march from Oakland to Downtown

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Wenhao Wu | Staff Photographer

Wenhao Wu | Staff Photographer

Wenhao Wu | Staff Photographer

By Alexa Bakalarski and Emily Brindley / The Pitt News Staff

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According to protesters’ signs, Donald Trump is a jagoff.

And, apparently, he killed Dumbledore. And he hates pierogies.

Accompanied by more confrontational slogans and chants, a group of about 125 protesters marched from Oakland to Downtown Wednesday evening, meeting up with hundreds of other protesters at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The protesters marched in response to Trump’s first official campaign stops in Pennsylvania.

Along with their signs, the protesters carried the tune of countless chants along Fifth Avenue, including, “Donald Trump, go away. Sexist, racist, anti-gay,” “Black Lives Matter” and “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.”

Beginning at about 5 p.m., police shut down Fifth Avenue to accommodate a group of anti-Trump protesters marching nearly three miles from Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum to the Convention Center Downtown. After taping a live town hall with Fox News host Sean Hannity at 5:30 p.m., Trump hosted a rally at 7 p.m. in the Convention Center.

When they arrived Downtown about 6:15 p.m., protesters converged with Trump supporters waiting to enter the rally at the intersection of 10th and Penn avenues. The protesters swarmed the underpass of the Convention Center to approach Trump supporters more directly, ultimately resulting in one Trump supporter on the ground.

When the Trump rally let out at about 8:15 p.m., riot police arrived.

Though the Trump supporters mostly dispersed by 9:30 p.m., protesters sang and rallied until later that night.

Jordan Mondell | Staff Photographer

After several fights broke out, police arrested at least three people at the rally. Some protesters complained of their eyes burning from pepper spray, but city police did not confirm if they had used the deterrent in any of their arrests.

Sandy Regan, 48, from Aspinwall, Pennsylvania, joined the protesters in their march from Oakland to Downtown because she said Pittsburghers must make it clear they don’t support Trump.

“I think we have to make it clear that we don’t appreciate what [Trump] stands for here,” Regan said. “He’s so sexist and racist and I fear he’s dangerous.”

Mary O’Hara, a Pitt student in her second year of graduate school for social work, said she’s anti-Trump because she doesn’t support fearmongering.

“[Trump] looks at people as a business, and we’re not businesses,” O’Hara said. “We’re human beings.”

The march Downtown was a way for the protesters to show their viewpoint and hopefully to make an impact, O’Hara said.

“The only way to get anything done is to voice your opinion,” O’Hara said.

Candi Brooks, a senior at Pitt, had been out since 11 a.m. to show their support for Bernie Sanders amidst the Trump mania.

“[Sanders] is for peace, not hatred,” Brooks said.

The atmosphere of the march changed as the protesters neared the Convention Center, according to Pitt junior and clinical therapy major Jasmine Green. By the time the protesters reached the Trump rally, Trump supporters had begun responding to them with chants and viewpoints of their own.

“Everybody was so supportive coming down here,” Green said. “Now we have to bring all that momentum to where it matters.”

Jordan Mondell | Staff Photographer

After running into Trump supporters in person, Green said she felt less afraid of the supporters than she expected, because there were so many anti-Trump protestors of all different ages, races and genders besides her.

“It makes me feel a lot better about our city,” Green said. “We’re here together to support the true values of America.”

After reaching corner of 10th and Penn, anti-Trump protesters surged through the underpass of the Convention Center, parallel to a long line of Trump supporters.

The protesters stood in groups facing the supporters, and both groups hurled chants and foul language at each other.

To chants from the protesters of “Trump voters, you can’t hide, we can see your racist side,” Trump supporters responded with synchronized chanting of “Trump. Trump. Trump.”

Brooks said confronting Trump supporters Downtown was “liberating at first” but became “terrifying.”

“I’ve never encountered so much hatred in my entire life,” Brooks said about the Trump supporters later in a message.

After most of the protesters had entered the underpass, a different group of about 30 people dressed in all black with black masks joined the group in protest. A brief scuffle ensued between the group in all black and a section of the line of the Trump supporters, resulting in one Trump supporter ending up on the ground.

City police broke up the altercation and moved the group in all black along. The group would not identify themselves or their affiliation.

Savannah Salvut, a 19-year-old from Eighty Four, Pennsylvania, stood in line for the Trump rally while protesters shouted against Trump. According to Salvut, the protesters had a skewed view of Trump.

“They’re protesting because they only hear what the media says — it’s mostly propaganda,” Salvut said. “I think [Trump is] the most qualified presidential candidate, I think he could bring America together.”

One of the Trump supporters waiting in line outside the Convention Center, Christine Shipley from McCandless, Pennsylvania, said the protesters didn’t bother her.

“I don’t think any of these people work, and what I pay in taxes, I bet these people don’t even make,” Shipley, 52, said.

Trump is a good presidential candidate because he’s an outsider and doesn’t work for the establishment, according to Shipley.

“We need something new,” Shipley said. “The establishment doesn’t work, and [Trump] can make America great again.”

Jordan Mondell | Staff Photographer

Andrew Hixson, a 27-year-old Navy veteran from Somerset, Pennsylvania, said Trump is different from other politicians.

“At least [Trump will] get done what he says he’s going to do,” Hixson said.

Hixson’s support for Trump began in part after reading one of the businessperson’s books.

“I read his book and I think he’s a very smart man,” Hixson said. “He always demands excellence.”

Jeanette Schwalm, a first-year political science major at Pitt, said the confrontation between Trump supporters and protesters showcased the real problem at hand: There was at least a little hate coming from both groups.

“I think it’s more important that we unite and love each other rather than spread all this hate and violence on both sides,” Schwalm said.

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Hundreds protest Trump, march from Oakland to Downtown