Day Five: 150 Stage Sit-In at Pittsburgh Mayor’s Office

sit-in-in-ravenstahl-office_420(from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

A group of about 60 protesters chanted and sang their way into the hallway outside City Council’s chambers around 1 p.m. Wednesday after 150 crammed into the courtyard around noon.

This protest was a continuation of the rallies held Sunday at the Hill District’s Freedom Corner and Mellon Park in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida.

This protest was spearheaded by Joy KMT, 30, of McKeesport; Bekezela Mguni, 28, of Wilkinsburg; and La’Tasha Hayes, 32, of Morningside, who all said their purpose was to deliver a list of demands to courthouse officials and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

One demand was to require the Pittsburgh legal system to begin an investigation of its own treatment of black people, citing the cases of Jordan Miles, Avis Lee and Terrell Johnson.

The protesters said in a written statement: “We are calling for an end of the criminalization of black people, black bodies and the black community. We should be valued because we are human beings. Our lives and the lives of our children are precious.”

“We expect the demand to be heard in no less than three business days,” Ms. Mguni said.

Ms. Mguni, whose name means “patience,” said she would wait as long as possible until these demands are heard.

The special assistant to the mayor, Jim Sheppard, denied the protesters access to the mayor’s office as he stood in front of the door but said he personally would deliver their message to him. They declined.

Ngani Ndimbie, 26, of Bloomfield handed the group’s demands to City Council President Darlene Harris.

The same list was put into the hands of Bill Peduto, the Democratic nominee for mayor.

“Pittsburgh has a heart; it’s a city of compassion,” Mr. Peduto said. “I plan to respond directly to each of their concerns, and I’ll go through them tonight and hope to have a response ready for them as early as tomorrow.

“If this has galvanized you in order to be able to make a difference in the city of Pittsburgh, then I’ll work with you to try and do things on a positive basis and … get something done.”

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