PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Protests over the death of George Floyd turned violent late Saturday afternoon and at least two Pittsburgh Police cruisers were set on fire.
At least a thousand protesters gathered in downtown Pittsburgh around 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Chants of “Don’t Shoot,” “Black Lives – They Matter Here,” and George Floyd’s famous last words “I can’t breathe” were chorused by the crowds of people marching with signs in the streets.
Protesters began moving toward the Liberty Bridge around 4:00 p.m. where there was an initial nonviolent confrontation with Pennsylvania State Police.
KDKA’s Royce Jones said protesters intended to go up the Liberty Bridge through the ramp near Sixth Avenue but were stopped by a state police blockade.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf encouraged the protestors to keep one another safe.
“This weekend, throughout Pennsylvania, people are protesting violence and injustice that occurs far too often against people of color,” Gov. Wolf said in a statement. “Everyone should speak out because no one should be at risk of harm because of oppression or racism. We have seen these injustices happen in the Commonwealth, and this week, we were all shaken by the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota. As Pennsylvanians protest, I urge everyone involved to be peaceful and to keep each other safe.”
Wolf added he has been in touch with cities and towns, offering assistance to keep communities safe during the protests.
As of 4:48 p.m., the protesters were moving throughout the downtown area. The protest officially turned violent around two hours into the demonstration. Protesters were seen spraypainting a police car from chopper footage around 4:30 p.m.
Some people throwing projectiles at officers, and others were seen kicking in the windows of a Pittsburgh Police cruiser.
KDKA’s Royce Jones says some protesters have moved to Route 579 and threw rocks at Pennsylvania State Police cars.
Around 4:50 p.m. protesters lit a police cruiser on fire.
Another police cruiser was set on fire around 5:15 p.m.
The Black Political Empowerment Project stated it is not affiliated with today’s march in any capacity.
Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto took to Twitter to tell those vandalizing property that they will be arrested and it was not in the spirit of what they were protesting.
“To those vandalizing Downtown. You will be arrested. You have turned on the very mission, and more importantly – the people, you supposedly marched for 2 hours ago. You have turned their peaceful march for justice into your self-centered, violent act of attention,” the tweet said.
To those vandalizing Downtown. You will be arrested. You have turned on the very mission, and more importantly – the people, you supposedly marched for 2 hours ago. You have turned their peaceful march for justice into your self-centered, violent act of attention. https://t.co/hu5Z0XkohU
— bill peduto (@billpeduto) May 30, 2020
According to Pittsburgh Public Safety, protestors smashed a glass business on Smithfield Street.
Police dispersed tear gas in response.
Protesters just smashed a glass business front on Smithfield Street. Officers forced to disperse gas. If you came to protest peacefully, please leave, go home, for your own safety. This is no longer peaceful. https://t.co/nKD4E7A3Vm
— Pgh Public Safety (@PghPublicSafety) May 30, 2020
Stay with KDKA for the latest on this developing story.