Protesters who shut down an expressway Thursday night while demanding justice in the police shooting of Antwon Rose are well within their rights to do so, area leaders said.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald sat down exclusively with Channel 11 News Anchor David Johnson on Friday to talk about the ongoing protests of the unarmed teenager's fatal shooting at the hands of an East Pittsburgh police officer on Tuesday night.
“Closing down a parkway … you have the disruption that goes beyond free speech, but you're starting to impact people's lives in a different way, so it's a balance,” Fitzgerald said.
Both men said everyone involved in the demonstrations on the Parkway East – protesters, police and motorists – handled themselves well. Peduto stood more strongly behind the people's right to protest, even on a major interstate.
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“The disruption and the power of the First Amendment,” he said. “The power of freedom of expression is given through that ability to close down a parkway.”
Johnson asked them both if police allowed it to go on too long.
“You always second-guess those types of things,” Fitzgerald said. “Should you let them go an hour, two hours, three hours."
Regardless, both think police did a good job, with Peduto again returning to the often-messy nature of democracies and citizens’ rights.
“It's at times like this that the First Amendment gets tested,” he said.
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