By KILEY KOSCINSKI• AUG 22, 2020
Protesters march through Wilkinsburg on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. KILEY KOSCINSKI / 90.5 WESA
One week after a cyclist was arrested during a Civil Saturdays protest, hundreds marched through East Liberty with little interference from police.
Saturday marked the 12th straight week of the regular demonstrations. While many took part in the protest, there was one notable absence: that of prominent local activist Lorenzo Rulli. Rulli was arrested Friday night outside of Mayor Bill Peduto’s Point Breeze home, the scene of multiple protests in recent days.
Protesters at Saturday’s demonstration echoed previous calls for Peduto to resign. The rally first started on Penn Avenue, near Bakery Square, with protesters marching through East Liberty and calling out gentrification in the area.
Protesters continued through Point Breeze and Homewood, led by a group of bike marshals and protesters with homemade shields.
At the intersection of Penn and Braddock avenues, protesters sat and observed a moment of silence for the movement.
Protesters also acknowledged Dannielle Brown, the mother of Duquesne University student Marquis Jaylen “JB” Brown, who died after falling out of dorm room window in October 2018. Brown has been on a hunger strike for nearly 50 days, awaiting answers from the university. The university held a press conference earlier this month.
Another person recognized by protesters was Romir Talley, a 24-year-old who was shot and killed by Wilkinsburg police in December.
After marching for more than two hours, protesters gathered at a parklet near Center Street in Wilkinsburg. There, speakers including Talley’s mother, Latasha, called for police body cameras and the firing of Robert Gowans, the officer involved in the fatal shooting of Talley. Founder and CEO of 1Hood Media, Jasiri X also spoke, talking about the unique trauma that the Black community faces by people who are also Black, naming Wilkinsburg Mayor Marita Garrett and Wilkinsburg Police Chief Ophelia “Cookie” Coleman. Many at Saturday’s protest called for their removal.
The family of Talley then led protesters to march back up Penn Avenue.
Protesters then stopped a second time, outside of the Wilkinsburg municipal buliding. Some shared stories about Talley, while Brandi Fisher with the Alliance for Police Accountability also talked about his case.
They then made their way back toward the East End, roughly four hours after the protest began. At that point, it started pouring rain. The demonstrators made their way to Mayor Bill Peduto’s house in Point Breeze. Speeches there pivoted from Talley and the recent arrest of Rulli to encouraging members to take to the polls in November.
Protesters did not stay outside of Peduto’s house for long and made their way back to Bakery Square, walking through the luxury apartment complex Bakery Living, and then dispersed just before 9 p.m.