PGH, Pitt groups plan for Inauguration

Several Pittsburgh community members will head to Washington D.C. on Jan. 20 for Trump's Inauguration. John Hamilton|Visual Editor

Although Washington, D.C is 246 miles away, many Pittsburghers are making the trek to the Capitol to attend one of the most polarizing inaugurations in history.

Students and members of the Pittsburgh community will be a few of the hundreds of thousands converging in D.C. to see Trump get elected — some to cheer him on, some to remind him that he didn’t win the popular vote.

As they did at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland 2016, the Pittsburgh Police will send 13 police officers and two supervisors to assist the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. with Inauguration Day safety and security.

“D.C. Police send out a request to all major city police department for help with inaugurations every four years. We are simply returning the favor, as we have received help with our large events in the past,” Emily Schaffer, the assistant public information officer of the Pittsburgh Public Safety Department, said in an email.

The officers will be sworn in as special deputy U.S. marshals for the inauguration during a training session beforehand, where they will take an oath that authorizes them to work security for the event. During the inauguration, they will protect the parade route to and from both the Capitol and the White House.

The federal government is reimbursing the city for the officers’ work, which will be determined after the inauguration, Schaffer said.

While Pittsburgh Police try to keep the peace on the streets — both in D.C. and Pittsburgh — on Inauguration Day, Fight Back Pittsburgh will be heading to the capital to flood them.

Fight Back Pittsburgh is loading two buses with eager citizens to protest Trump’s anti-union policies for their first-ever inauguration trip. In D.C., Fight Back activists will take part in protests throughout inauguration weekend, including #DisruptJ20 in McPherson Square on Jan. 20 and the Women’s Rights March on Washington the day after.

According to Fight Back Pittsburgh organizer Patrick Young, who also provides training, technical and strategic support for the organization, about 100 seats are filled, with 25 to 35 Pitt students signed up for the trip. About a dozen seats are still available, according to Young, leaving room for last-minute additions who want to make their voices heard.

“It’s important to go to events like these, because we have to do everything we can to not normalize Trump’s actions,” he said.

In preparation for the trip, Fight Back Pittsburgh held a mass action training on Jan. 3 to provide more logistical details and some guidance on how to prepare for mobilization efforts — including bringing plenty of warm clothes for a long, cold day and being willing to help your fellow protester.

“People get together to support each other physically and emotionally with big events like this,” Young said.

Buses will leave from the Cathedral of Learning at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19, and arrive at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of D.C. around 7 p.m. Seats on the bus are available for $15.

As for Pitt, the Student Solidarity Coalition (PSSC) has been protesting Trump long before he officially got the required Electoral College votes on Nov. 8. The group has no plans to stop now.

For the inauguration, the Student Solidarity Coalition (PSSC) is teaming up with Fight Back Pittsburgh for the trip to Washington. The organization has split into two facilitating groups: one with Fight Back Pittsburgh and the other with Socialist Alternative Pittsburgh to attend various inauguration events in Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.  

While Pittsburgh activist groups takes the streets, two Pitt conservative groups — Pitt College Republicans and The Pitt Maverick — will be at the Capitol on the President-elect’s big day.

According to Pitt College Republican president Marlo Safi, a junior political science major, 12 to 15 of their members are attending the Inauguration since a large portion of the group did campaign work for Trump and other Republican incumbents.

“George W. Bush said a few months ago that he thought there might never be another Republican president, so this is a curveball and a wrench in the game for us. It will be interesting to see the next Republican President,” she said.

The Pitt Maverick, a conservative news publication on campus, is sending four to five writers to cover the transition between presidents. According to managing editor Tim Nerozzi, who has been a columnist for The Pitt News, the group will be at the inauguration not to celebrate big ticket politicians but to report on the event as a fresh online outlet at Pitt.

“This is one of our rare opportunities where we have the chance to cover a national story as it’s happening, at the same time frame as any major news publication,” he said.
The Pitt News is sending writers to the inauguration and will update live via social media and on our website. We are also covering any ensuing protests here in Pittsburgh. Follow us for more inauguration updates.

Editor’s note: The Pitt News listed Patrick Young as the president of United Steelworkers. He is actually an organizer with Fight Back Pittsburgh. This has been corrected in the story. The Pitt News regrets this error.

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