PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh officials are turning an act of hate into a rally for peace.
The community filled a South Side Slopes park on Tuesday to stand in solidarity after a vandal tagged the field with racist graffiti.
“We turned out for the community and the community turned out for us,” said Kevin Alton, the president of South Side Bears.
From neighbors and pastors to politicians and police officers, the community filled the park with love after a recent act of hatred. Community leaders and city workers painted over the racist graffiti and swastikas discovered at Quarry Field on Monday but said you can’t wipe away the hurt and pain that it caused.
“Turnout was wonderful. It was wonderful. It was more than I expected,” said Alton.
Coach Alton first discovered the racist graffiti and anti-Semitic drawings on his team’s concession stand. The shocking act of hate sparked outrage on social media and fueled Tuesday afternoon’s rally for peace
“We have the senator out here, the mayor, two mayor elects, the whole Pittsburgh police force Zone 3,” said Alton.
The field is home for the South Side Bears, a local youth organization and outlet for the kids.
“Babies, ages 5 to 14 years old. It is no longer a safe place for them,” said Reverend Eileen Smith of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
Pittsburgh police launched an investigation and are asking for information on the tagger “Orez.”
“I’m so glad they went on live yesterday in front of this building,” said state Rep. Ed Gainey. “Because do you understand the trauma that puts throughout Pittsburgh? Do you know how her children feel when they see this level of hate throughout our community?”
Police say the perpetrator shattered lights, spray painted the cameras and cut the wires to the security system and scoreboard.
“Bring it on,” said Will Anderson of the Black Political Empowerment Project. “You going to stay in the shadows in the dark? To preach your hate? Bring your butt on out here and let us see who you are, OK? Let’s talk. Are you scared of a conversation?”
Mayor Bill Peduto also spoke at Tuesday’s rally. He told the coaches that all the money raised should be used for the South Side Bears programming and the kids. Mayor Peduto said the city promises to take care of the damages.