This reportback was originally published on Torchlight, and was sent from an anarchist who attended the first rally for Antwon Rose on Wednesday evening. There was also a larger rally and march Thursday night that blocked Parkway East for over five hours.
I got there late, about a half hour after the 6 PM start time. There were about 300 people there, most of them young and Black, rallying at an intersection. I recognized some people I knew, but not as many as I would have hoped ordinarily. East Pittsburgh is a pretty long way from where most of the anarchists live, and the protest was called with only a few hours notice.
The rally split up into a couple of groups, one in the intersection and another further up Electric Avenue (yup, Electric Avenue). The second group seemed louder so I gravitated in their direction. A bunch of people were screaming at the cops, especially this one pig in a white shirt. There were cops there from a bunch of different towns, including a few I hadn’t even heard of. None from Pittsburgh though, and I didn’t see any state cops either. The cops who were being screamed at backed off slowly and made a line across the road, but eventually pulled back to the sidewalks.
The other group was bigger but less confrontational. At one point a white unmarked cop SUV tried to drive through the big group and people started screaming and lined up to block it in. All the cops from Electric Avenue came over and surrounded the thing while it did a slow three point turn and finally left. That was as intense as anything got while I was there. After the SUV left some people started yelling at a few kids in black bloc about violence, which seemed kind of ridiculous when you think about what we were protesting.
Pretty soon after that people mad a giant circle in the intersection of Electric and Braddock and seemed prepared to stay for a while. Then the clouds started gathering, the news helicopter dippe out, and it began to rain hard. People clustered under a railroad bridge that runs over Electric and a few people sat down in the middle of the road. It seemed ilke the rain was thinning out the crowd though, and I eventually headed out because my ride was leaving.
Nobody seemed very well prepared, including the cops, but I guess that’s not surprising. I saw a couple of green legal observer hats, but no marked medics. A few people were there in black bloc, but in my opinion that wasn’t a great place for a bloc. They stood out more than if they had just worn regular clothes. The cops were mostly hands off. The Allegheny County pigs showed up, but they didn’t bring their horses. Nobody was in riot gear. The only crowd control weapons I saw were these assault-looking rifles that I think fire rubber bullets. Some cops from Monroeville had those, but they put them away pretty early. Except for the SUV incident they didn’t seem to be doing anything to provoke people.
The rain definitely took a lot of the fight out of the crowd but even before that people seemed more about grieving and venting their anger at the cops than throwing down. There’s going to be another protest downtown tomorrow at noon at the county courthouse, so we’ll see what happens there.