Violent protests erupt at the University of Pittsburgh in response to transgender rights debate

Violent protests erupt at the University of Pittsburgh in response to transgender rights debate
Transgender flag.

Violent protests erupted in Pittsburgh on April 18 as left-wing activists attempted to shut down a calm and composed debate about transgender rights at the University of Pittsburgh between political commentators Michael Knowles and Brad Polumbo. The event was sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the Pitt College Republicans.

Protesters met together near the University of Pittsburgh at around 6:30 PM, rallying for trans rights, defunding campus police, and raising the university’s minimum wage. Organizers revealed that they were going to “get in the faces” of students attending the debate between Knowles and Polumbo. They gathered directly outside the debate location at around 6:45 PM.

Protesters chanted, “If we don’t get it, shut it down,” as they made their way toward the debate location, carrying signs denouncing things like “capitalism.”  At 7:00 PM, 30 minutes before the time scheduled for the debate, protesters used a road flare to set fire to an effigy of Knowles. The effigy was adorned with a picture of Knowles’ face on which protesters had drawn a Hitler mustache.

By this time, police had arrived both from the City of Pittsburgh and the University, accompanied by city firetruck and rescue vehicle. The protesters had their own medics.

Protesters lit flares and threw them into street drainage grates. About 15 minutes before the debate, a lit flare was thrown by a protester into a crowd of students who were about to enter the debate location. The protesters then attempted to rush the security barricade, but the police presence was able to keep them from getting through.

About four minutes after the debate began, the university emailed an emergency “Pitt ENS Alert” to students and staff warning of a “public safety emergency” after protesters lit an incendiary device near the back of the debate location, with the blast shaking the chandeliers inside the building.

The university noted, “In addition to several devices which produced significant smoke, an incendiary device was thrown in the direction of officers, triggering the message. As the situation evolved, several buildings were temporarily closed and visitors to residence halls restricted as a safety precaution.”

Nearby Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU) also sent a security alert to students instructing them to avoid the area near the campus.

Once the debate began and Knowles took the podium,  four protesters inside the event repeatedly yelled, “Trans Rights are Human Rights,” before they were removed from the building by university police.

People watching the debate who were seated in the back of the room were unable to hear portions of the debate due to the deafening sound of the chants and drum-playing of the outside demonstrators.

The debate ended at 9:00 PM, but people watching it were told by college officials to stay in the building because of angry protests outside that were growing more agitated. Attendees were also told to stay clear of the windows because of the threat of projectiles thrown by protesters.

A half hour later, people who had attended the debate were led out of the debate location by police through a back entrance. The Chief of the University Police wanred there was “no time” for the College Republicans, who hosted the event, to clean up the venue, ordering everyone to “get out now.”

At around 9:40 PM, Pittsburgh city police told the protesters to leave, and by 10:00 PM the campus was back to normal, according to the Pitt News.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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