Community
4:52 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Protesters Gather With Demands Following Zimmerman Acquittal

Protesters rally inside the courtyard of the Allegheny County  Courthouse Wednesday.
Protesters rally inside the courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse Wednesday.
Credit Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

Protesters responding to the acquittal of George Zimmerman filled the courtyard of the Allegheny County  Courthouse Wednesday at noon.

Their shirts read “White Supremacy Acquitted Zimmerman,” and they held signs that said “Pittsburgh for Trayvon.”

Neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman was acquitted Saturday of murder and manslaughter of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.

“Since the verdict was sent down on Saturday evening, I know there was lots of grief, despair, pain, frustration and for most black people," said La’Tasha Mayes, one of the speakers. "We were thinking this is injustice as usual.”

The protest was an extension of rallies Sunday at Freedom Corner in the Hill District.

“Some of us didn’t know what to do, the rage," Mayes said. "We didn’t know how to respond until now that we see Pittsburgh is committed to responding in a way that sustains racial justice for all the people that live in this community and human rights in this human rights city that we call Pittsburgh."

They then created a list of demands that they took to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Democratic nominee for mayor Bill Peduto and City Council President Darlene Harris.

The group demanded that the city of Pittsburgh denounce Pennsylvania’s version of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which states that people are allowed to use force in self-defense if they have reason to believe they are being threatened.

Pennsylvania’s law differs from Florida’s in the fact that the defendant must see a lethal weapon before using force outside of their home.

The group also called for Pittsburgh to support the creation of black economic initiatives and halt development in historically black neighborhoods without consensus.

When the rally finished, the crowd was offered a chance to speak with Public Safety Director Mike Huss but declined because they wanted to see the mayor.