Protest

Minority students are being unfairly targeted for out-of-school suspensions, according to some parents, teachers and concerned citizens expected to rally before Pittsburgh Public Schools ' 6 p.m. board meeting at their Oakland office on Tuesday.

Black children represented 54 percent of Pittsburgh's 26,041 students last year but received 77 percent of the district's 9,382 suspensions, according to data compiled by advocacy group Great Public Schools Pittsburgh. Students with disabilities accounted for 17 percent of enrollment but received 27 percent of out-of-school suspensions. 

Demonstrators gathered outside the City-County Building Thursday morning to protest police misconduct and petition for changes to the current contract between the City of Pittsburgh and its police force, while representatives of the Fraternal Order of Police presented contract negotiation arguments before an arbitration committee inside.

90.5 WESA / Michael Lynch

Dozens of University of Pittsburgh medical students wearing white lab coats and surgical masks lay in the lobby of Scaife Hall Wednesday as part of a national “die-in” to raise awareness of racial injustices.

Students played dead for 4 minutes and 30 seconds to represent the 4 hours and 30 minutes 18-year-old Michael Brown’s body lay in the street after being shot and killed by a white police officer in August in Ferguson, Mo.

Julian Routh / WESA

More than 100 fast food workers and supporters marched along Allegheny Avenue in the North Side Thursday morning to fight for a minimum wage hike.

The protest started at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church and ended at the Wendy’s restaurant two blocks away, where the workers marched through the drive-through. The supporters also entered the doors of the McDonald’s next door to yell chants including, “We can’t survive on $7.25.”

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

“Hands up – don’t shoot!”

That was the cry of dozens of Pittsburghers who gathered downtown Thursday to protest the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers.

“The average person, the average citizen has to get involved in this. This involves all of us,” said organizer Julia Johnson. “Police brutality, systemic racism, the list goes on and on of the issues that our country is suffering from right now. Everyone must be a part of this movement. We must liberate ourselves from this oppressive system.”

As a community member and organizer, Tim Stevens, President of the Black Political Empowerment Project, gives his reaction to the grand jury's decision in Ferguson, MO. He also presents us with some historical perspective on community and police demonstrations in Pittsburgh.

Julia Johnson, a 22 year old social justice activist, says last night's announcement "reflects a larger problem with systemic racism and sets an ugly precedent.” She talks about the peaceful demonstrations being planned in Pittsburgh and the local issues that connect to this case.

President Obama's Monday night speech following the Ferguson decision touches emphasizes the need for a larger conversation about police and community interaction. 

Jess Lasky / 90.5 WESA

The McKnight Road Staples store in Ross Township was covered in blue and red today as United States Postal Service (USPS) workers yelled “Whose post office? The people’s post office,” in protest of what they call a “sweetheart deal” to privatize the mail system through Staples.

The USPS has set up shop in 82 Staples stores across the country offering most postal counter services such as selling stamps, processing mail and sending packages. The USPS plans to expand the pilot program to 1,500 stores, but the “Stop Staples” movement is looking to put an end to the program.

Representatives of several organizations are set to gather outside of UPMC headquarters today to lobby in support of wage increases—and they might have some economic ammunition.

According to a report by the activist organization Pittsburgh United, raising wages to $15 an hour for UPMC service workers could benefit the region’s economy.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is once again facing the ire of some of its employees, but this time it has nothing to do with alleged union-busting tactics at the healthcare giant.

About 50 people gathered Wednesday outside the Steel Building where UPMC has its corporate offices to protest the outsourcing of the medical transcription department to a Massachusetts company called Nuance.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds of protestors sat down in the middle of Fifth Avenue in Oakland outside of UPMC Presbyterian Saturday, singing “Amazing Grace” and calling on the healthcare giant to make some major changes.

Christoria Hughes, 56, works in the dining hall at Presbyterian for $12/hour, and said the rally wasn’t just about the employees of UPMC.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds of men, women and children sang, screamed and chanted outside of the East Liberty Target Wednesday to call out one of the nation’s largest low-wage employers.

Residents are demanding that the development taking place in the East End directly benefit the community.

According to protesters, Target entered a “gentleman’s agreement” with the community before the store was built, saying that the shopping giant would hire East Liberty residents and offer them well-paying jobs to revitalize the community.