In response to the news that groups associated with white supremacists and other so-called "alt-right” causes were planning to protest at the Google offices in Larimer, local counter-protesters knew they needed to respond strongly. The far-right-wing groups called off their protest of Google, but counter protesters continued with their march anyway.
Within a week, counter-protesters, led by black community members, organized about 300 people for a march in Homewood and North Point Breeze. On August 19, starting at Dana’s Bakery in Homewood, the marchers chanted “Black Lives Matter” as they marched down the street.
The gathering, called the "Black Brilliance Collective: March and Gathering," was led by about 30 black marchers, who held signs and led the hundreds of marchers in chants. Behind them, a crowd of more than 250, which was mostly made up of white marchers, followed and chanted along. When the crowd passed underneath the MLK East Busway on Homewood Avenue, cheers echoed and reverberated of the murals of local African-American icons.
Residents watched as the crowd marched by, including Deborah L. Mack of North Point Breeze, who told Pittsburgh City Paper
she thought the march was wonderful, and hoped it could help stop the violence. Her friend, Eugene A. Sharpley said, “This is beautiful, it feels good.”
The Pittsburgh Police escorted the march through out its entirety. No incidents occurred, and there were no signs of any white supremacists or neo-Nazis there to counter-protest.
When the march was at a pause, Michelle Gilmore, a Wilkinsburg resident, took out a megaphone and addressed the crowd. “This march is about unity,” she said. “I will be damned if I let hate come into my city.” Gilmore added that she hopes the march will help stem some of the violence that occurs between residents of communities of color.
One of the march organizers, Ciora Thomas, spoke to CP
after the march ended at Westinghouse Park — also known as Malcolm X Park — in North Point Breeze. She said the march wasn’t just a direct response to the planned “alt-right” Google protest and the events at Charlottesville, Va., but was about “liberating black and brown people.”
“Gentrification is pushing us out of our city,” said Thomas. “Today we took the day to liberate our people.”
Another smaller rally was held at Bakery Square in Larimer. About 30 protesters held up American flags and signs that read "Honk against Nazi white supremacists." This rally was suppose to be the location where "alt-right" protesters clashed with counter-protesters. But only the counter-protesters appeared to show up.
According to a tweet
from an editor at The Pitt News
, even though the alt-right protest never showed, the police presence in Bakery Square was still high. Additionally, the anti-Nazi protesters appeared to have their own form of backup. A group of a dozen red-bandana-clad men and women appeared to be offering protection to the anti-Nazi protesters and stood behind the protest group in Mellon Park.
The red bandana is typically a symbol of the antifa, a left-leaning, anti-fascist group, as well as a typical symbol of an anti-racism group known as the "Redneck Revolt."
One bandana-clad man was carrying what appeared to be a rifle, possibly a semi-automatic rifle, but the members wearing the bandanas refused to talk to CP.