Protesters urge people to boycott election

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Lucas Zheng | Staff Photographer

Six members from Serve the People Pittsburgh gathered at the corner of S. Bouquet Street and Forbes Avenue urging pedestrians to not vote and instead focus on “revolutionary solutions” Tuesday afternoon.

By Millicent Watt and Ashton Crawley

While people across Oakland ventured to their polling locations to vote, protesters gathered at the corner of South Bouquet Street and Forbes Avenue and held a banner reading, “Don’t vote, fight for revolution.”

The protest took place Tuesday afternoon and consisted of six members from Serve the People Pittsburgh, an organization that, according to its Facebook page, is focused on finding revolutionary solutions to overcome capitalism with the help of working class people. The group said its members are boycotting the election.

Kenny Gamble, a 26-year-old from East Liberty and the leader of the protest, said its purpose is to urge people to take action and start a revolution instead of voting.

A member of Serve the People Pittsburgh speaks with passersby. (Dalia Maeroff | Senior Staff Photographer)

“We fight for the daily needs of the people themselves, but we also fight for a brand new world, and a brand new world can only come through with revolution, we’re not going to be able to vote out our oppression any time soon,” Gamble said. “So this is what we’re out here for, we’re demanding that, and we’re also saying that neither Trump nor Biden represent us.”

Gamble also said voting is an “illusion” from the ruling class to make us feel like we have a say in our lives.

“Voting is not going to get us free, it’s an illusion they give us, meaning the ruling class, the people who control our lives, control everything we need, to work and live our lives, they give us this illusion in order to make it feel like we live in a democracy,” Gamble said.

Throughout the protest, members of the organization handed out flyers promoting another event, talked to passing pedestrians and took turns speaking into the megaphone, either to chant or to give a speech.

A journalist from the Tribune of the People, a “revolutionary” newspaper focused on political topics and activism covering the protest, had a turn on the megaphone, and yelled vulgarities through the megaphone.

“F— you, f— Biden, f— Trump,” he said.

Serve the People Pittsburgh later held another event in Schenley Plaza. (Lucas Zheng | Senior Staff Photographer)

He turned the megaphone toward an older couple who were engaging with the protesters. In response to the vulgarities, the older man swung out his arm to hit the journalist and was quickly ushered away by his wife.

The City police’s Civil Affairs Team twice came to the protest, but no other authorities came to the protest and no action was taken.

Abby Zolner, a junior environmental studies major, said she didn’t understand the protester’s message and feels that voting is important because it is how her voice can be heard.

“I don’t think as a U.S. citizen that I should just stand around and not do anything,” Zolner said. “I understand that the government system is extremely screwed up, I don’t agree with the government at all, but I can’t change that as an individual, but what I can do is vote, so I use my vote.”

Logan Kauffman, a first-year political science and economics major, said people should vote because it is a privilege that Americans are lucky to have.

“What I would say is to really do your research, do your due diligence, because voting is a privilege that many countries don’t have the exact same privilege of,” Kauffman said.

Zolner and Kauffman were not the only people who disagreed with the protesters’ message. Throughout the protest, many students stopped to argue or talk to the protesters. Twice, a pro-Biden group paraded down the Forbes Avenue sidewalk chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go,” while carrying Biden and Harris signs.

In response, the protesters chanted back, “Don’t vote, fight for revolution,” and “Every four years, the ruling class chooses. No matter who wins, the working class loses.”

The Serve the People organization later held another event in Schenley Plaza, where organizers encouraged people to paint banners and get up to speak on the megaphone. Two dummies of Trump and Biden were set up and attendees painted words and symbols on them, such as the words “rapist” and “imperialist.”

Organizers said change is made in the streets and that people need to work to overthrow the oppressive system. The protestors later marched down the sidewalk on Forbes Avenue carrying banners and the Trump and Biden dummies on sticks while chanting, “Every four years, the ruling class chooses. No matter who wins, the working class loses.”

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