Tensions flare as protesters block downtown streets during President Trump's visit

Protesters block Penn Avenue near Convention Center

PITTSBURGH — President Donald Trump was in Pittsburgh Wednesday to speak at the Shale Insight Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, prompting protests that took place on downtown streets.


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By 8:30 a.m., people began gathering in downtown Pittsburgh for a demonstration ahead of Trump’s afternoon speech at the Shale Insight Conference.

Some protesters started at Gateway Station, gathering around a sign that said, “Our solidarity will defeat white nationalism.”

People from Bend the Arc: Pittsburgh said they were protesting what they called Trump’s message of hate. The protest was also because of the timing of Trump’s visit, which comes within days of the commemoration of one year since the Tree of Life synagogue shooting.

“We’re here to tell Trump: #OurSolidarityWill protect each other and defeat your white nationalism,” a post on Bend the Arc: Jewish Action’s Facebook page said.

Once protesters began marching, police in riot gear soon approached them and warned them to leave. However, many ignored the warning and police began making arrests.

Protesters sat in place at the corner of Liberty Avenue and Commonwealth Place, blocking the Fort Pitt Bridge exit ramp.

By the end of the protest, 14 people had been arrested.

One of the people arrested said anyone who was "willing to risk their life" wore a wristband.


Around 1:30 p.m., protesters started to gather at the corner of Penn Avenue and 10th Street.

The intersection was shut down shortly after as more protesters started to arrive downtown.

At one point, arguments ensued between protesters and Trump supporters. Police had to step in to keep the sides separated, but everything remained peaceful and under control.

“It’s very nice to see all of the cops out here because it can definitely be scary leaving an event like that knowing that there are protesters like that,” said Grace Jason, a Trump supporter.

When people who attended Trump’s speech were leaving the Convention Center, police lined portions of Penn Avenue.

“As much as I’m Black Lives Matter, the police have done a fantastic job of keeping things calm and being alert,” said Eve Allen, a protester.

Around 5:40 p.m., Penn Avenue reopened, but protests continued on the sidewalks. At that point, police brought in the mounted units.