(Pittsburgh) August 17, 2020 “The decision by the City of Pittsburgh and police administration to deploy authoritarian tactics resembling a criminal abduction against a peaceful protest leader on Saturday is as inscrutable as it is distressing. Weeks after national outcry over similar tactics in Portland and New York City, Pittsburgh decides it wants to join this club? Our residents must know to what level this decision rose in the City’s public safety hierarchy, and who exactly signed off on the use of an unmarked vehicle to surreptitiously approach and snatch a peaceful citizen off the street.

“The use of these tactics belies our posturing as a ‘progressive’ city sympathetic with the demands of Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protestors whose concerns and demands are as warranted by our history locally as they are nearly anywhere else in the nation. These are the tactics that have always been used to seek to silence those who demanded change: from the labor movement, to the women’s rights movement, to the Civil Rights movement, to the LGBTQ rights movement.

“That after months of regular and nearly uniformly peaceful protests, the City seems no better prepared to respond appropriately and without violating our citizens’ rights speaks to a monumental failure of a government that paints itself as ‘progressive.’ Instead it makes excuses about the protestors’ level of coordination with police, their alleged affiliations, and what some of them choose to wear. When these are the rationales given, who is really safe from an unexplained and unwarranted arrest?

“Instead of abducting him, the police could have had a dialogue with the peaceful protest leader on the intent of the protestors, and either worked to ensure their safety from vehicles and the passage of emergency vehicles (these being among the varied concerns expressed by City officials about this particular peaceful protest), or asked them to move from the right-of-way. I have yet to hear any plausible rationale for an arrest, especially in the manner it appears to have occurred, which should be chilling to all those who believe in an accountable law enforcement system.

“It is evident that Mayor Peduto has done little to put in place judicious and proactive measures to ensure safety while protecting the rights of peaceful protestors. This apparently will be left in the hands of courageous activists and attorneys offering their services to them to fight unlawful tactics and arrests; a City Council and Citizens Police Review Board which have hopefully seen enough to realize they must act; and to all of our residents who believe this is not how government should act in our name. I stand with you and pledge to move forward alongside you.”