Media Contact

August 16, 2020


PITTSBURGH - On Saturday, concerned residents of Pittsburgh continued local protests in support of Black lives and against police brutality and marched through the city’s Oakland neighborhood. According to witnesses and press reports, when the protesters arrived near the University of Pittsburgh campus, one person - a marshal, who is responsible for directing the march and keeping people safe - interacted with a person in an unmarked vehicle, and, when the marshal approached the vehicle, several armed men grabbed the marshal and threw him into the vehicle.

Only later did protesters learn that the marshal had been arrested for blocking a roadway and several other offenses.

In response, late Saturday night, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto tweeted, “The right to assemble is a guaranteed right, the right to shut down public streets, is a privilege. That privilege is sanctioned by laws and codes. In Pittsburgh, we worked w ACLU & CPRB to create our codes.”

The ACLU of Pennsylvania responded to Mayor Peduto’s tweet in a statement released today. The following can be attributed to Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

“Once again, police in Pittsburgh have shown why people are in the streets protesting for Black lives and against police brutality. Even when their behavior has been exposed for all to see, Pittsburgh police continue to abuse the people they are meant to serve.”

The following can be attributed to Witold Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

“Mayor Peduto is correct that the ACLU of Pennsylvania consulted with the city in drafting guidelines for how to handle protests, specifically unpermitted protests that block roadways. However, based on eyewitness accounts, the arresting officers were in clear violation of their own guidelines. According to those who were there, the law enforcement officers involved made no effort to work with protest leaders to clear the area and gave no clear dispersal order. Instead, they tricked a protest leader to approach them and then whisked him away. The ACLU of Pennsylvania has never suggested that the snatch-and-stash arrest of a peaceful demonstrator is ever acceptable.

“Mayor Peduto and Chief Schubert owe the people of this city a full accounting of what happened in Oakland yesterday. If the officers involved failed to follow the city’s own guidelines for managing protests, those officers must be held accountable.”