President Trump in Pittsburgh: Protesters and supporters take to the streets of Pittsburgh


President Trump speaks at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Photo Credit: (RMU Sentry Media/Soundharjya Babu)

Soundharjya Babu, Assistant News Editor

PITTSBURGH – The streets leading up to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center were bustling with energy from supporters and protesters alike in anticipation of President Trump’s arrival.

Donald Trump was a keynote speaker for the 2019 Shale Insight Conference at approximately 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Hundreds of supporters waited inside the convention for the conference, while protests continued on throughout the day.

On the corner of Penn Ave. and 10th St., dozens of protestors gathered at noon after arrests from Bend The Arc were made in the morning. One protestor said 13 people blocking the road got arrested.

Penn Ave. protesters chanted phrases such as “Dump Trump” and “the other side is fake news” in response to a street vendor who was also an avid supporter of the president. On opposite sides of the street, both parties argued with the other.

A protester named Olwyn, who did not want her last name mentioned, arrived at the event around noon with her dog, dressed in a costume with the phrase “eat the rich.”

“[President Trump] is not welcome here,” said Olwyn when asked about her thoughts on his visit to Pittsburgh.

Olwyn also commented on the shale oil industry as a whole, discussing her disapproval for the industry because of experiences within her family.

“Nobody needs that much natural gas,” she explained. “My brother used to have this property and they cut all the trees down for it.”

Various street vendors were selling Trump merchandise. While some were supportive of his arrival in Pittsburgh, others were indifferent. One vendor said he traveled to 48 states for different rallies and events to sell merchandise.

When asked about his political affiliation, he explained that he has no affiliation, but selling the merchandise pays his bills. As a recent college graduate, the vendor travels the country and sells sweatshirts, hats and various other items for $20 each.

The competition with other vendors can be difficult at times, but according to him, he earns around $4,000 to $5,000 a day, and on election days, it can be up to $6,000. He usually sets up a stand in the city once a week.

Inside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, doors opened for the general admission line at 2:25 p.m, while the Concerned Ohio River Residents gathered on Penn Ave. and 10th St. to protest the environmental impacts of the shale oil industry, led by Native leaders.

They marched through downtown Pittsburgh in opposition of the Shale Insight Conference before stopping on Penn Ave. and 10th St. The community was passionate about hydraulic fracturing wells damaging the water supply in the area, as well as the close link between environmental and racial concerns.

Among them was a high school senior, Marci Mazda-Fredley, who joined the march after participating in the morning protests. According to Mazda-Fredley, around 80 police officers were present in the morning for security measures.

“I’ve been here all day,” she said. “I want to show people that high school students can care about these issues too.”

Mazda-Fredley’s poster highlighted some topics that she is passionate about, including climate change, police brutality and immigration policies.

Some supporters also watched the protest from the sidewalk, including Jake Hardcastle.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” said Hardcastle. “It was actually a coincidence that I came here, so I just stopped by.”

He was traveling when he heard of the president’s arrival in Pittsburgh and decided to stop by in the city. According to Hardcastle, President Trump’s tax returns helped him pay off his rent, and he wants more border security to create more jobs in America. He will be voting for Donald Trump in the upcoming election.