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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
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“Palestine solidarity encampment” disbands following negotiations with Gainey and Innamorato

Protesters+face+police+officers+during+the+Palestine+Solidarity+Encampment+on+Sunday+night.%0A
Bhaskar Chakrabarti | Staff Photographer
Protesters face police officers during the Palestine Solidarity Encampment on Sunday night.

After over 30 hours of protest, the “Palestine solidarity encampment” disbanded early Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday morning, communications director for the city of Pittsburgh Maria Montaño announced that Mayor Ed Gainey and County Executive Sara Innamorato were involved in discussions with encampment leadership on Monday night. These discussions, which Montaño said lasted two to three hours, resulted in protesters choosing to dissolve the encampment.

“We provided them with information about our efforts to attempt to de-escalate the situation, and provided our assessment of what was likely to happen so they could understand and be informed of the decision they had to make for themselves,” Gainey said. “At the conclusion of the meeting, we facilitated their return to the encampment in order for them to share with those involved and they made the decision to leave Pitt’s campus peacefully.”

Innamorato said she and Gainey spoke to a “faith leader” in the encampment who helped organize a group of encampment members who “identified themselves as students and instructors at Pitt.” Innamorato said they listened to the group’s concerns.

“The mayor and I cannot speak on behalf of those demands, but have encouraged all those involved to engage in meaningful and respectful dialogue to address their concerns,” Innamorato said. “As the leader of this county who strives to build a community where everyone feels safe and welcomed, we will continue to balance and keep everyone’s First Amendment rights intact while standing resolute against antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism and hate in all of its forms.”

Gainey described the encampment last night as “unstable” and emphasized the importance of safety at protests and in Pittsburgh.

“We can’t bring peace and we can’t bring safety if we don’t engage in the situation and try to de-escalate in ways that everybody goes home safe,” Gainey said.

When asked if he informed encampment members of the possibility of arrest, Gainey said, “absolutely.”

“We want to prevent that, and the way we do that is to work together to de-escalate the situation,” Gainey said. “We were truthful with the fact that we don’t know if [the police are] coming or not, but what we do know is that if they do come, we know exactly what’s going to happen.”

Gainey added that he is planning meetings with local university chancellors and executives to “have a conversation about how we work together” when responding to situations similar to the “Palestine solidarity encampment.”

The Pitt Divest from Apartheid Instagram has not provided an update since the encampment’s disbanding.

About the Contributor
Spencer Levering, Senior Staff Writer