Mayor Peduto apologizes for actions during anti-Trump protest

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh's mayor is apologizing for his actions during an anti-Trump parade Wednesday night in East Liberty.

Mayor Peduto told Channel 11 he acted "unprofessionally" when he yelled at police officers during the protests, which began outside the Ace Hotel.

The group of more than 150 people marched for miles through East Liberty into Shadyside, blocking traffic at one point at an intersection. When protesters got too close to Shadyside Hospital, police set off smoke canisters to drive them back.

The mayor heard about the canisters, then drove to the scene, confronted officers and blasted the commander.

Thursday, the president of the police officers' union called out the mayor.

"Police were there trying to keep control of a situation that was potentially spiraling out of control. They acted appropriately, and the mayor intervened. And in my opinion, that was unprofessional. and and dangerous," Bob Swartzwelder said.

Swartzwelder said the mayor's action could have influenced the crowd.

"It can also cause the crowd, to to become confused and say, 'We are going to take our direction from the mayor and not the police,'" Swartzwelder said.

Peduto said he "was very upset" and apologized for blowing up, but said he disagreed with the level of force.

"These were kids that were marching and demonstrating the First Amendment of this country, and there was no need to use smoke and there was no need to use helmets," Peduto said.

Peduto also admitted that he told officers on Wednesday, "If you think it was bad under Cam, it's going to get worse."

That was a reference to the former police chief, who disagreed with the union over the use of riot gear and other issues. The mayor has also been outspoken about riot gear, claiming it elevates the level of tension.

However, just last spring, four officers were injured at an anti-Trump protest, when when they were not allowed to wear their riot gear. The union says the gear is a safety issue.

reported that police followed closely behind the group, and no one was arrested. Those participating in the protest told Holden that they were expressing their fears over where the nation stands. Many said they don’t agree with how they believe Trump views gays, women’s rights, gun laws and immigration.

On Thursday, the chancellor of Pitt released this statement:

"I believe that what our country needs most during this time of change is precisely what we can best offer: an ability to work together to deepen our understanding of critical problems and an ability to work together to develop solutions to these very problems."