PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — After a peaceful marched turned into chaos in East Liberty, police and protesters are not seeing eye to eye about how the situation unraveled.
City officials are pointing the finger at a small group of agitators, who they say hijacked the peaceful protest and turned it violent.
But some of those in the crowd have a different version of events.
On Monday, a peaceful march in honor of George Floyd began in East Liberty. Things took a turn as the march winded down.
After declaring the assembly unlawful, the police repeatedly warned the demonstration to disperse.
The standoff at Centre and Negley devolved into a confrontation involving tear gas, bottles and the firing of rubber bullets.
The question is, who initiated it?
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said the police had to act.
“At what point do we not take a response that helps to protect the community and the officers who are just doing their job in order to keep the peace?” the mayor said.
But demonstrators, like Nicole Rulli, say otherwise.
“The police absolutely initiated this,” Rulli said.
Police say they were pelted with bottles and bricks and fired benign smoke bombs in return.
But demonstrators said it was tear gas, and Rulli says the police caused mayhem by rolling out the initial canister and then firing rubber bullets.
It all happened before the city’s 8:30 p.m. curfew.
“There was so much smoke that they were blindly shooting into the crowd,” Rulli said.
Prior to the incident, a splinter group of demonstrators broke windows in East Liberty.
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“That’s exactly who it was,” Ella Rawlings said. “It was that small pocket of people that came to destroy this neighborhood.”
But Rulli says they were separate from the splinter group.
“I would really like Mayor Bill Peduto to do what he said on the news last night and really investigate this. I believe that his police are lying to him,” Rulli said.
City police say they were attacked with bottles, bricks and fired benign smoke bombs.
Protesters say it was tear gas, and they were fired upon by rubber bullets.