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BLM activists protest outside Pittsburgh mayor's home for second night

The group of roughly 200 remained outside the mayor's home, chanting, "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Bill Peduto's got to go."

Mia Cathell The Post Millennial
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Black Lives Matter and anti-police protestors gathered outside Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's home in Point Breeze for the second consecutive night on Wednesday.

Peduto prepared this time by posing for a picture on his doorstep, captioned with a Mister Rogers reference: "A Beautiful Night in the Neighborhood."

When a parody account asked if the mayor will be present to address protestors, Peduto's office responded: "Yes. The Mayor will be home tonight to listen to the concerns of constituents."

A small group met with the mayor on his porch to discuss the protest in the East Liberty neighbourhood on Jun. 1 and the 11th weekly "Civil Saturday," which resulted in the arrest of a protester by plainclothes police officers, KDKA reported.

Video on social media showed police in street clothes whisk 25-year-old Matthew Cartier away in an unmarked white van.

Cartier is facing charges for obstruction of a highway or other public passage, disorderly conduct, and failure to disperse.

City police alleged that Cartier was interfering with public safety, but protesters argued that officers used excessive force to intimidate demonstrators.

Cartier's defense attorney, Lisa Middleman, claimed her client was "abducted by the police" and called the arrest "dangerous and unconstitutional," asking for his case to be dropped.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala released a statement on Monday upon review of police body camera footage, saying Cartier's arrest should "be a summary offense at best" and should be handled by police in a summary hearing.

Cartier’s detainment sparked outrage and led protestors to label his arrest a "kidnapping." Demonstrators were fueled to march through several Pittsburgh neighborhoods, ending at Peduto's residence where they demanded answers.

Eventually, protesters decided they heard enough and started rallying once more. Peduto then retired inside his home around 9 p.m. after about 40 minutes.

The group of roughly 200 remained outside the mayor's home, chanting, "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Bill Peduto's got to go."

Around 10:15 p.m., police officers arrived on motorcycles at a nearby intersection. Protesters were warned about a 10 p.m. noise ordinance as police later declared the protest an "unlawful assembly."

"Protesters are being asked to leave the vicinity or face possible arrest," Pittsburgh Public Safety wrote on Twitter.

Stragglers marched along an exit route, set up by police, to Mellon Park, where police clashed with protesters.

Police report that one person was arrested.

"Please donate to @BukitBF which uses donations to bail out those who are incarcerated in the Allegheny County Jail," one activist urged on Twitter.

The Bukit Bail Fund of Pittsburgh is a revolving collective of bail money with the intent to abolish bail altogether.

On Tuesday, police declared a protest outside of Peduto's home that began in the evening and stretched into Wednesday morning also an "unlawful assembly." Protesters created noise and called for the mayor’s resignation throughout the night.

Police delivered dispersal orders Wednesday morning, and the protesters left soon after. The mayor was not home.

Demonstrators have stated they are protesting because they feel that Peduto has not taken the BLM movement seriously.

Police have allowed activists access to city streets without permits. Even the American Civil Liberties Union argues that police are within their rights to make arrests if protesters create disturbances, block vital streets and intersections, or refuse to disperse.

"People need to — especially in this time — have an outlet to be able to exercise their right to express their displeasure with what's going on in government. But at the same time, I think everybody need to recognize that those rights are not unlimited," said ACLU of Pennsylvania's legal director Vic Waczak.

In a statement, Peduto also asserted that free speech has its limitations.

"I have long defended First Amendment rights to peaceably protest. I strongly believe that Black Lives Matter, that we are in a historic fight for civil rights in this country, and that it is right for people to take to the streets to demand much-needed reforms to policing in our cities," he prefaced his response.

"What I cannot defend is any neighborhood in our city — and their residents and families — being disturbed through the night and morning, and a peaceful protest devolving into unacceptable conduct in which residents are being harassed and threatened. This crosses a line that cannot be allowed to continue, causing those committing crimes against residents to face possible legal consequences for their actions," Peduto concluded.

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