By Chloe Chappell
Several student groups on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus organized a “Rally and Walkout at Pitt: Disarm Pitt Police” on Friday, which was intended to mark the year since President Donald Trump’s election victory prompted protests both on campus and nationwide.
The facebook event page read, “Last year on November 17th, students, workers, and community members marched together in the streets of Oakland to demand an end to student debt and protest Trump’s election. The group was met by Pitt Police officers who injured and arrested multiple students right outside of their dorm. The Facebook event’s page says that the event is meant to “commemorate this day, and demand that the University take steps to disarm campus cops & ban city cops from our campus.” It also reads that classes can’t be as important as the “safety of our friends.”
There were seven groups involved in the Rally and Walkout, not all university-recognized: Pitt Against Debt, Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement, SCAM, Filler- Zone and Distro, Pittsburgh Anti-Fascism, Nightshade Pgh, and Pitt Students for a Democratic Society.
There was a police presence in the Litchfield Towers lobby much of the day anticipating the arrival of the students.
The students gathered on the patio outside Towers lobby at approximately 3:30 p.m. Many were wearing black, and carrying signs which included “Disarm Dismantle Pitt Police”,“Disarm Pitt Police, Arm Your Desire”, “RIP SCOUT”, and “Disarm Pitt Cops”. When asked for a statement about their rally by reporters they declined to comment.
Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner was present in Towers Lobby with other officials from the University. He spoke to the students that were beginning to gather and informed them on the rules and procedures, such as their permission to gather on the patio but the requirement to reserve the space for a rally or demonstration. He told reporters that he hopes “it’s a good day for everyone.”
The rally began with one of the leaders telling the crowd, “We have a right to demonstrate on campus.” She was followed by a Pitt Alum who is currently employed by UPMC Western Psych who spoke of the protest that occurred a year ago at towers. “It was a peaceful and well organized protest”, she then added that the police came and tried to clear out towers. “The police talked to each other as if we weren’t there and couldn’t hear them.” She described her memory of the events as students were crying and screaming when police used rubber bullets and tear gas to clear out the lobby. “It was a nightmare…what is a protest if it doesn’t disrupt the peace?”
Other speakers followed, speaking of their experience at the protest last year. Many had statements about the University of Pittsburgh, whom they are very unsatisfied with. “Pitt is an institution founded on white supremacy”, “A University is a capitalist machine”, “Pitt has the monopoly on critical thinking”, and “Pitt Police serve as Pitts army”.
After everyone, involved in the rally, had been given the chance to speak their minds the students began chanting and waving flags. “No Justice, No Peace, [Expletive] the police”, “The People United, Will Never Be Defeated”, “ACAB- All Cops are [Expletive]”, and “Oy Oy Bang Bang, Everyday The Same Old Thing”.
The demonstrators then left Towers Patio and marched to the quad while continuing the same chants. They maneuvered throughout Oakland until they stopped on the Oakland Avenue, continuing to chant and wave flags at cars that passed by.
The demonstration began to dwindle at approximately 4:15 p.m. Fortunately for all involved, it was ultimately peaceful, with no arrests or injuries.