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Pittsburgh reacts after NC shooting, Trump visit

Black Lives Matter activists  chalked campus  Thursday night. Wenhao Wu | Senior Staff Photograph

Black Lives Matter activists chalked campus Thursday night. Wenhao Wu | Senior Staff Photograph

Victor Wu

Victor Wu

Black Lives Matter activists chalked campus Thursday night. Wenhao Wu | Senior Staff Photograph

By Alexa Bakalarski and Emily Brindley / The Pitt News Staff

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Less than 24 hours after protests became deadly in North Carolina, Pitt students and Pittsburgh residents responded to the national uproar over police shootings of black men.

Armed with banners, bandanas and staplers, more than 25 people gathered in front of the Porch in Schenley Plaza at about 9 p.m. Thursday.

Many of the protesters showed up to the plaza clothed in all black, with bandanas covering their heads or mouths. They talked quietly amongst themselves, smoking cigarettes or absent-mindedly waving black cloth flags. One had used pink chalk to write on the brick ground, “Black Lives Matter.”

According to one of the protesters, who wished to remain anonymous, the plan for the night was to post signs and banners across campus, namely on the round billboards surrounding the outside of the William Pitt Union.

Phil Cancilla, 20, of South Hills, was at the Plaza and said the atmosphere in Pittsburgh may not be as severe as in other cities, but the racism and the potential for police brutality are still present.

“While it’s less of an outright problem here, it’s the quiet, insidious kind of racism,” Cancilla said.

A member of NextGen Climate beats a bucket in cadence to chants as protestors sit down in the middle of the intersection of Wood Street and Sixth Avenue. Stephen Caruso | Senior Staff Photographer

Protests sparked in Charlotte, North Carolina, Wednesday night after police shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old black man, Tuesday. As the protests became more vigorous, Michael Brown Sr. spoke at Pitt about the death of his son Michael Brown Jr., who was shot by police two years ago, and honored his legacy.

Shortly after his talk, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency in Charlotte. A protester named Justin Carr, 26, was shot and critically wounded by another civilian during the protest. On Thursday evening, Carr died from his wounds.

On Sept. 16 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer Betty Shelby shot and killed Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old unarmed black man, after finding his abandoned car. Shelby was charged with felony manslaughter on Thursday — one of the few times a police shooting has resulted in a formal charge.

Anger over the shootings manifested outside the Duquesne Club on Sixth Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh Thursday afternoon. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was speaking to a convention at the David Lawrence Convention Center.

The protest originated as a statement against fracking and Trump, but after the candidate finished speaking to the assembled crowd and went to the Duquesne Club for lunch, protesters marched down Penn Avenue, blocking traffic and ignoring police barricades while chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “No Trump, no KKK, no racist USA.”

After trying to enter the Duquesne Club to confront Trump, city police intervened on horseback and with riot gear, nightsticks at the ready, sunlight bouncing off their face masks. Police pushed protesters from the adjourning sidewalk, knocking a few down and incensing the crowd.

From then on, the protesters anger was directed at the cops, not Trump. Protesters called out “this is what a police state looks like” and continued after police informed the crowd that Trump had left the city.

Protestors rallied outside of the Shale Conference about Trump, fracking and police brutalityStephen Caruso | Senior Staff Photographer

Protestors rallied outside of the Shale Conference about Trump, fracking and police brutalityStephen Caruso | Senior Staff Photographer

Thursday morning, several hours before the protesters began to gather, a man stood on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard in front of Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, holding a microphone and speaking to passers-by for several hours about police brutality.

The man had two large signs with him. One read, “No man should ever die with his hands up” and the other read, “My color should not make me a target.”

About a dozen people stopped on the corner to listen to him, with a few others listening across the street at the bus stop in front of the Union.

“When we let it happen, we’re just as guilty,” the man said over the microphone. “Hate don’t stop. Hate just keeps hating.”

At the Schenley Plaza protest, Cancilla said some Pitt students are not only bystanders, but active opponents of protests. The loud chanting and stalled traffic at many demonstration causes inconvenience the students, who Cancilla said sometimes lean out dorm windows and shout for the protesters to shut up.

“[They believe] their convenience is more important than people’s lives,” Cancilla said.

Jordan Malloy, 21, of East Liberty, said she hoped the Schenley Plaza protest would make people stop and consider the injustices of American society.

“The least we can do is make people look at things and ask questions,” Malloy said. “There’s a lot wrong. And it makes people restless.”

Editor’s note: In a previous version of this article, the story said that Betty Shelby was convicted of felony manslaughter, instead of charged with felony manslaughter. The article has been updated to reflect the accurate information. The Pitt News regrets this error.

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Pittsburgh reacts after NC shooting, Trump visit