Protesters chanted and sang outside his Point Breeze home, making Peduto the latest in a growing list of mayors and other public figures to see demonstrators take aim at their private residences.
In city after city, crowds have marched on residential streets calling for racial justice and police changes, prompting pushback from elected officials and some of their neighbors.
In June, demonstrators outside the D.C. home of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) danced to music and chanted in front of a line of police officers. Last month, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s (D) home was vandalized with paint and spray-painted messages that included “Defund OPD!,” a reference to the city’s police department.
Demonstrators in Seattle marched to the home of Police Chief Carmen Best, who denounced what she called “aggressive protesters” taking “direct actions against elected officials.” Demonstrators, meanwhile, said they were met with armed neighbors blocking their way.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) has defended the use of police to block protesters from her home, saying she had received threats and needed to protect her loved ones and neighbors. The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday that police had effectively banned protesters from Lightfoot’s block, with some neighbors criticizing the heavy police presence in the area, which was blocking demonstrators’ access.
“I have an obligation to keep my home, my wife, my 12-year-old and my neighbors safe,” Lightfoot, who took office last year, said at a news briefing Thursday. “The deployments that are there are there when they are necessary. . . . I have a right to make sure that my home is secure.”
Lightfoot declined to elaborate on the nature of the threats.
Demonstrators had also repeatedly protested outside the home of her predecessor, Rahm Emanuel. When a reporter asked her about that at press conferenceThursday, Lightfoot said that the current moment is different and that “comparing this to some other time doesn’t make any sense.”
Protests have also brought their ire to the homes of some federal officials. Last month, amid outrage over the Trump administration’s response to the unrest in Portland, Ore., demonstrators gathered on a quiet street in Alexandria, Va., outside the home of Chad Wolf, the acting homeland security secretary. One of Wolf’s neighbors brought out snacks and water for the demonstrators.
The protests at Peduto’s house in Pittsburgh followed the weekend arrest of 25-year-old protester Matthew Cartier, who is facing charges for failure to disperse, disorderly conduct and obstruction of highways or other public passages. Peduto said he had “serious concerns” about the officers’ tactics, including using an unmarked van during a Saturday demonstration downtown.
But Peduto’s reference to certain forms of protest as a privilege led demonstrators to gather outside his home Tuesday with bullhorns. Peduto did not come home Tuesday night, according to a spokesman, as Lorenzo Rulli — a prominent Pittsburgh organizer — and other protesters slept outside of the house. Rulli said he woke up Wednesday morning to police officers ordering his dispersal from the mayor’s home.
“Black Lives Matter is a movement for black liberation, and when a White man goes on Twitter and says that we have a privilege to protest . . . it creates a dangerous tone for other racist people who don’t support our protests because they don’t believe we have a right,” Rulli said
Peduto expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement after Tuesday’s protests, but added, “what I cannot defend is any neighborhood in our city — and their residents and families — being disturbed through the night and morning, and a peaceful protest devolving into unacceptable conduct in which residents are being harassed and threatened.”
On Wednesday evening, Peduto met with protesters on his porch. “We have disagreements on issues. . . . Let’s work together to try and find a way to do it so that it can actually bring other people involved,” Peduto told the protesters according to video by local news station WPXI.
But the conversations dead-ended within the hour and Peduto retreated inside as chants for his removal from office echoed through the crowd.
“Despite receiving the audience they asked for, the protesters continue to loudly demonstrate outside his Point Breeze home,” Pittsburgh Public Safety tweeted.
About 10 p.m. on Wednesday, the protest was declared an unlawful assembly and Pittsburgh police ordered the protesters to disperse or face possible arrest, an order that was followed by tear gas. The mayor’s office said a long-standing noise ordinance kicked in at 10 p.m. and was explained to demonstrators by police near his home. Police say demonstrators continued to use bullhorns, sing and chant, but protesters say that they were following orders from police and organizers.
“Last night they shot at us and they arrested one of our marshals who protects Black people,” Rulli said, adding that he plans to return to Peduto’s home Thursday night. “And if he decides to arrest me — I don’t expect anything less than a negative police encounter.”
But Jasiri X, co-founder of activist and artist coalition 1Hood, said the demonstrations are not just about the police tactics used in the arrest of Cartier, the clashes outside the mayor’s home or the mayor’s tweets. The protesters, he said, want to call attention to what Black people in Pittsburgh have long felt about the city’s inability to act on their behalf.
“This is why people were at his house — because from June till now, Mayor Peduto has not engaged. This is somebody who says he’s a progressive, who says he supports Black Lives Matter, but he has not engaged any of the folks that are leading the protests at all.”
Organizers say they will continue to demonstrate outside Peduto’s house and are increasingly calling for his removal from office.
“It’s plain and simple,” said Zarah Livingston, who manages the Pittsburgh protests’ social media feeds. “We want a mayor and PGH leadership that is going to tell us the truth. Leadership that will listen to actual constituents on the issues they face in this city.”
Wednesday night brought another clash between protesters and law enforcement in the embattled city of Portland, Ore., as well, where several hundred protesters rallied around a federal building that houses U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices.
It was the first time federal officers engaged with Portland protesters since they pulled out of the city’s downtown in an agreement with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown last month.
Some demonstrators broke windows at the ICE facility and set a mattress on fire in the street before police deployed tear gas to end the 84th consecutive night of protests in the city.
Katie Shepherd in Portland contributed to this report.