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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — New guidelines released Thursday prohibit protesters from blocking certain intersections and roadways in the Pittsburgh area.
The Department of Public Safety says the city has been working with local and national experts on the best practices for protest response over the past five weeks since the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose by East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld.
“The City’s guiding principle remains protecting the First Amendment rights of protesters while assuring that all people – from protesters to city residents and motorists who may be affected by road closures – are kept safe,” the Department of Public Safety said in a release.
Meghan Schiller’s Report:
As a result, the City has released new road safety guidelines, which prohibit protesters from blocking certain intersections. The prohibited areas include all hospital entry and exit routes, all special events and their entry and exit routes, and all tunnels and bridges that if blocked would have a significant impact on overall public safety.
The guidelines make it clear that Pittsburgh Police support people’s right to protest and that they can still block intersections. However, for safety reasons, protestors will not be allowed to block these so-called “Red Zones.”
The guidelines also include a list of certain highways and byways that protesters are not allowed to block during weekday morning and afternoon rush hour.
Other “Red Zones” include what are described as nine “critical” intersections, including the Boulevard of the Allies at Grant Street, which protestors blocked Wednesday night. Also considered “Red Zones,” are nine major roads including Routes 28, 51, 65, I-279 and I-376, to name a few.
The guidelines also list “Yellow Zones,” which cannot be blocked during morning or evening rush hours.
If protesters do block any of the prohibited intersections, officials must make attempts to speak with protest leaders asking them to clear the area. If protesters refuse, officials will give a dispersal warning telling protesters they must clear the area within five minutes. After five minutes, officials will give a 2-minute warning. If protesters still refuse to clear the area after the second warning, a third warning will be given and police will begin to take action to clear the area.
The guidelines say any acts of violence against people or property damage will result in immediate police action.
In addition to releasing the guidelines, police will deploy crisis intervention teams to coordinate with protesters during demonstrations and promote open communication between organizers and personnel.