Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto Says Protest Outside His House 'Crosses A Line'
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- These days, it seems Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto can't please anyone -- certainly not the protesters who made a ruckus outside his house in Point Breeze all night. Even though he's condemned it, they blame the mayor for the arrest of 25-year-old Matthew Cartier, who was whisked away in an unmarked van on Saturday.
And the mayor can't please the police themselves who say they are the constant focus of the mayor's criticisms.
FOP President Robert Swartzwelder is predicting massive retirements of police in October when 268 officers become eligible, citing comments by Mayor Peduto and District Attorney Stephen Zappala over the police handling of the protests.
"They're pinching the police in the middle and police officers feel that no matter what they do they're going to be criticized by the two highest public, which is going to change public opinion and force negative ramifications on the the police officers and some police officers are going to say 'ok you don't want us, we'll go and do something else,'" he said.
The mayor was not home last night when protesters beat on drums, blew in horns and chanted disdain, and he as not in his office today. But in a statement, he said while he supports free speech, he indicated arrests will be warranted if actions like this happen again.
Thus far, police have allowed demonstrators unfettered access to city streets without permits, but even the ACLU says police are within their rights to make arrests if protesters create disturbances or block vital streets and intersections and refuse to disperse.
"People need to -- especially in this time -- have an outlet to be able to exercise their right to express their displeasure with what's going on in government. But at the same time, I think everybody need to recognize that those rights are not unlimited," said Vic Waczak of the ACLU.
In a statement the mayor also said free speech has its limits:
"What I cannot defend is any neighborhood in our city — and their residents and families — being disturbed through the night and morning, and a peaceful protest devolving into unacceptable conduct in which residents are being harassed and threatened. This crosses a line that cannot be allowed to continue, causing those committing crimes against residents to face possible legal consequences for their actions."
Protesters left a little after 10 a.m. Wednesday. They were visibly upset when they took off and say they plan on coming back at night.
It was around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when a line of Pittsburgh Police officers stood together near Mayor Bill Peduto's home declaring the gathering an "unlawful assembly." Police said they had to leave, if not, they could be arrested.
WATCH: KDKA's Lindsay Ward Reports
Only about a dozen protesters were there, and 30 minutes later, they all left peacefully and no one was arrested.
Earlier, they had a siren going off and were seen using a megaphone. They were trying to get the mayor's attention, requesting to talk to him.
"It was certainly loud. I'm sure it was a lot worse for the neighbors who are on this block," said Jesse Seager.
Jesse Seager is the co-owner of Point Brugge Cafe, which is just steps away from what was happening. He says at one point, around 300 people were on the street. Some even spent the night. There were mattresses along the sidewalk.
"Everything seemed to be pretty harmonious," said Seager. He tells KDKA he wasn't worried about the situation getting out of hand.
However, he was concerned for those who live close to the mayor's home.
"There definitely are neighbors that are scared. I talked to multiple neighbors that left for the evening that have kids, that have elderly people in the house," he said.
The massive protest started Tuesday evening. It wasn't until around 7:30 p.m. when they showed up in front of the mayor's house.
This is the second time in just days protesters were seen in front of his place. Many of them feel the mayor does not support their movement.
They're also angry about what happened to a protester, Matthew Cartier. He was arrested last weekend in Oakland by plainclothes officers and put into an unmarked van.
- Police Declare 15 Hour-Long Protest Outside Of Mayor Peduto's Home 'Unlawful Assembly'
- About 300 Protesters March To Mayor Bill Peduto's Home After Arrest Of Demonstrator
- Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto 'Livid' About Protester Arrest, Won't 'Tolerate These Tactics' In The Future
- Pittsburgh Activists Say Peduto, Public Safety 'Vilify' Protesters Following Weekend Arrest Of Demonstrator
- Police Tactics Used In Oakland Arrest Sparks Anger, Protests, Calls For Mayor Bill Peduto's Resignation
- Pittsburgh Mayor Has 'Serious Concerns' With Plainclothes Officers' Arrest Of Protester Into Unmarked Vans
- Pittsburgh Police Arrest Man During Protests In Oakland
Some protesters are calling for the mayor's resignation following Cartier's arrest.
Eyewitness call the arrest a "public kidnapping," and organizers have cited worries about the police interfering in protests. Pittsburgh P\police say that there has been an ongoing breakdown in communication and that many protesters are failing to communicate their protest routes in advance.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto officially responded after around 300 protesters marched to his house and held a demonstration on his street.
You can read his full statement below:
"I have long defended First Amendment rights to peaceably protest. I strongly believe that Black Lives Matter, that we are in a historic fight for civil rights in this country, and that it is right for people to take to the streets to demand much-needed reforms to policing in our cities.
What I cannot defend is any neighborhood in our city — and their residents and families — being disturbed through the night and morning, and a peaceful protest devolving into unacceptable conduct in which residents are being harassed and threatened. This crosses a line that cannot be allowed to continue, causing those committing crimes against residents to face possible legal consequences for their actions. Using protests to create conflict and division, as some are doing, only impacts the ability of others to exercise their constitutional rights safely.
I am working to make Pittsburgh a better city for all, and I have condemned and halted the arrest methods Pittsburgh Police used last weekend. I understand that people are feeling fear, pain and anger in our communities, and that some want to take their frustrations out on me. I fully accept that, but I will not accept unjustified actions that threaten neighbors in any part of the city."
for more features.