PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Activists with the transgender and LGBTQ community gathered outside the Allegheny County Jail for a protest Thursday evening, and later moved to the Municipal Courts Building, where police in riot gear had to block the entrance.
The protesters said they were upset that transgender women are being placed with male inmates at the jail.
The lengthy demonstration blocked Second Avenue, the road outside the jail for about an hour during the evening rush hour.
After three warnings, Pittsburgh Police moved in and arrested 11 of the protesters. Some of the officers had on riot gear.
Watch the protest here (WARNING: Explicit Language):
Ten of those taken into custody will be cited for blocking the street and were released.
Michele Dalton, 33, was arraigned overnight and released on her own recognizance.
Police say Dalton was charged because she didn’t cooperate with officers and refused to give officers her name after they asked for it multiple times.
Dalton faces multiple charges and will be back in court for her preliminary hearing at the beginning of November.
Watch Amy Wadas’s report —
Protesters say transgender women in the jail are in danger because they’re placed with the male population.
Aria Copeland, from SisTers PGH, said, “You’re basically putting transgender women in harm’s way. Especially if they’re going to be housed with males who are possibly transphobic.”
Over the summer, a male inmate was charged with raping a transgender woman who was placed in the same cell.
“Create a special pod for transgender and non-binary people like they did for veterans some years ago,” said Ciora Thomas, from SisTers PGH. “If they did it for veterans, they can do it for our community to keep us safe in the jail.”
In a statement, Warden Orlando Harper said they do have a policy for people who are transgender but is does not explain what that policy is.
He does say that “the safety and security of our inmates, staff, visitors and volunteers is paramount and drives decisions related to housing.”