Pittsburgh was under an 8:30 p.m. curfew Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights due to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. These protests — which have thus far occurred in Downtown and East Liberty, among other neighborhoods — follow the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis black man who was killed by then-police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. “I can’t breathe,” Floyd called out before he went unconscious and died.
Chauvin has been fired, charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter — though the charges only came after a video of Floyd’s death was widely circulated and outrage erupted nationwide. The three other police officers present on the scene have faced no charges. As black members from the Pitt community and across the nation have pointed out, there have been thousands of George Floyds. There have been thousands of Breonna Taylors — a black woman who was shot at least eight times by the police on March 13. There have been thousands of Ahmaud Arberys — a black man who was shot by two white men while neighborhood jogging, in broad daylight, in February. There have been thousands of Tony McDades — a black trans man shot and killed by police in Tallahassee, Florida, last week. But despite the thousands, nothing has changed. There has been no justice.
We acknowledge that The Pitt News is a student newspaper whose staff has routinely been dominated by white voices. We acknowledge that this is a central weakness. We can do better. We will do better. As a newspaper, it’s our job to report. It’s our job to refuse to let Pitt administrators sweep anything under the rug. It’s our job to speak with — and sometimes for — a community. But it’s also our job to sit down and listen. It’s our job to elevate voices who understand and are affected by a given issue the most. Right now, that means using our platform to elevate black voices.
We will pay attention. We commit to giving a platform to the truth, to using active voice instead of passive voice on a consistent basis. We commit to putting black voices first, before all other voices. We commit to listening to our community, both members’ suggestions and criticisms.
We, at The Pitt News, stand in solidarity with the black community — our writers, our neighbors, classmates, friends and people around the country — in the fight against racism and brutality. We believe in protesting. We believe in the fight for justice.
We are angry. We see you. We hear you. We are listening.
If you are involved in the Black Lives Matter movement and would like to voice your opinion or experiences, you can submit an op-ed to The Pitt News.