The death of George Floyd while he was in police custody in Minneapolis has drawn reaction globally, and the South Hills is no exception.
On Thursday, hundreds of people gathered to march from Dormont along West Liberty Avenue onto Mt. Lebanon’s Washington Road and back, many of them carrying signs promoting the concepts of Black Lives Matter and putting an end to racism.
Organizing the peaceful protest were Pittsburgh residents Camille Redman of the West End and Ashley Love of Beechview, who had done something similar the prior week on West Liberty, closer to the Liberty Tunnels.
“The whole reason why we’re out here today is because we want to give people of color a voice,” Redman said prior to Thursday’s march. “We have been listening to them for a long time on a community level, but it needs to be bigger than that.
“We need the officials who are policing us to hear us,” she continued. “We need the people who are passing laws in the state – in Washington, D.C. – we need all of those people to hear us. And the best way to get them to hear us is never to shut up.”
She said that a conversation with Love resulted in the idea to take a stand in the suburbs.
“Honestly, all I said to her was, ‘We should start protesting in whiter neighborhoods.’ By that, I mean, obviously predominantly white,” Love said.
One of the women she works with in Mt. Lebanon is African American, a person whom Love has heard subjected to racism.
“I’m sick of it,” she said, “and that’s why we’re bringing it to Mt. Lebanon today.”
West Liberty Avenue and Washington Road were cleared of vehicles late Thursday afternoon to allow for marchers to proceed safely and, as per the organizers’ intentions, orderly.
“We’ve been trying to keep things peaceful, because the best way to attract bees is with honey and not vinegar,” Redman said. “We’re trying really, really hard to keep it peaceful, but also to be very loud and in your face, so even if you don’t want to hear us, you have to listen.”
Many residents of Mt. Lebanon and Dormont joined Thursday’s protest, showing their communities’ support for racial equality.
“We’re seeing a lot of new faces,” Reman observed. “It’s nice, really nice, because the whole idea of this is to bring people together, whether you’re white, black, brown, purple, orange, yellow.
“We want people to come together as a whole, and there are so many people of so many different ethnicities and backgrounds who are tired of this,” she said about racially motivated violence. “I think that it’s been creeping up on America’s back for a while now, but I think George Floyd really is what broke the camel’s back.”