A city in solidarity: Anti-police brutality protests continue Thursday


Protests on Pitt’s campus continued Thursday afternoon, as students gathered in Towers lobby to organize a die-in to raise awareness for those who have died in police-related incidents.

At 12:45 p.m., students trailed from Towers lobby to the Fifth Avenue side of Towers patio. They then laid down on the patio in silence for four-and-a-half minutes. Roughly 100 students attended the protest, said Pitt spokesman John Fedele. 

Organizers of the protest refused to speak with The Pitt News. 

Police monitored the protest but did not interfere, allowing for a peaceful expression of students’ First Amendment rights, Fedele said.

“It’s the way freedom of expression is supposed to work in this country,” he said.

Students chanted, “No justice, no peace, no racist police,” and “We can’t breathe,” as they held signs on the patio.

Before dispersing at approximately 1:12 p.m., protest organizers spoke to the crowd through a megaphone, announcing that another protest will occur Friday at 5 p.m. in Schenley Plaza. 

Protests flared up again Thursday night as roughly 20 students marched down Forbes and Fifth avenues chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” The protest ended in Schenley Plaza following a moment of silence. Police again monitored the protest but did not interfere, following behind the marching students in Pitt police cars. 

Earlier in the afternoon, dozens marched Downtown protesting the verdict in the Eric Garner case in New York City, in which a police officer who killed Garner using a chokehold was not indicted. Pittsburgh police blocked traffic to allow the protest.

Sevin Hunnid, a Pittsburgh native and host of Keepin It 700 radio, came out in support of her family, who had “come through struggles with police brutality and race issues.”

“My aunt was a Black Panther. It’s in my blood to stand up for justice and, no matter what color, gender — I’m supposed to stand up for my generation,” Hunnid said. 

Hunnid said today’s protest “made a statement” and would help draw a bigger crowd at tomorrow’s protest, which she plans to attend.

Outrage convinced Robert Browne Gartei to join the demonstration Thursday afternoon.

“Not only personally, but nationally, against a violence that’s happening against a specific group of people,” Gartei, a junior studying Japanese, anthropology and Africana studies, said. “It’s unfair. It’s not right. And it’s something that needs to be changed in our society.”

Gartei said he found out about the protest mainly through word of mouth, flyers and posts on social media, all of which have been the driving factor behind most of the protests, he said. 

Gartei said it’s important for Pitt students to look to make a change in their communities. 

“Look at your local government, ask them these critical questions,” he said. “Look at your officials, the laws that [they] have and will make, and the stances they take. That, to me, will enact the quickest change.”