Protesters hold ‘sleep-in' at City-County Building, take message to Ravenstahl's home



PITTSBURGH - Protesters who marched to Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office Wednesday demanding racial justice spent the night in the City-County Building downtown.

About 15 protesters sat outside the mayor's office until 6:30 a.m., city police said.

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Michael Huss said police worked shifts through the night to keep an eye on the group.

“There were no arrests,” he said. “Everybody was orderly. Everything was fine.”

The protesters linked their march to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida. They sang and chanted and gave a list with 14 demands to Council President Darlene Harris, including that the city renounce “state-sanctioned murder.”

About 30 signs were placed outside Ravenstahl’s Fineview home Thursday morning, also in protest of the verdict in the Martin case and demanding changes.

Tim Stevens, of the Black Political Empowerment Project, said he called the mayor’s office Wednesday in hopes that he would come out to talk to protesters. When he didn’t, Stevens said, protesters took their message to the mayor’s house.

No vandalism or damage was done at Ravenstahl’s house, but police said they are increasing patrols in the area.

In a statement, Ravenstahl said the following:

"Now is a time of intense reflection in America and I understand many of the emotions that have flooded our hearts and minds over the past week. Tragic gun violence, nationally or locally, is something that we are all too familiar with and we need to take this time to ask ourselves what we can do to stop this pain that plagues our communities.

“To those who wish to demonstrate, I have heard and read your concerns. I wholeheartedly believe in the right to peaceful assembly, however that does not give anyone the right to damage private property and to frighten people’s young children.

“I want to stress that we have done much to address many of the points raised -- increased hiring opportunities for our residents, made college more attainable and affordable with the Pittsburgh Promise, invested millions of dollars and leveraged funding to revitalize our neighborhoods, and worked with law enforcement to decrease crime across the city. There is still so much more to be done. I ask the residents of our city to continue the dialogue and to work with us as we strive to ensure that Pittsburgh is America's Most Livable city for all of our families."

Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.