The University of Pittsburgh students, apparently feeling left out of what has been occurring at the University of Missouri, staged their own protest Thursday night on the streets of Oakland, Pennsylvania.
Oakland, best known for being the academic and healthcare center of Pittsburgh, became famous Thursday night for its chanting student protesters who illegally walked down the middle of its streets, forcing frustrated drivers to remain stuck in traffic.
I watched two live periscope feeds from a local ABC affiliated reporter in Pittsburgh, Beau Berman, who captured the entire event. Berman labeled his periscopes the “#MillionStudentMarch in Pittsburgh.”
The protest started and finished, ironically, at the Cathedral of Learning on campus where apparently the only thing the students were learning were the tenets of socialism.
A large sign was being carried by several in the crowd which read, “Raise Hell Not Tuition” and set the tone for what was to come.
What do #MillionStudentMarch protesters want? How did it play out tonight in Oakland? Full report at 11pm on #WTAE https://t.co/Ug43CJat25— Beau Berman (@Beau Berman)1447379752.0
Additionally, many in the crowd carried “Bernie Sanders” signs, showing their support for the Democratic senator from Vermont and 2016 presidential candidate. If he had been there, perhaps the protesters may have even allowed him to speak!
The huge crowd could be heard chanting such things as “One, two, three, four…Student debt is class war. Five, six, seven, eight…Social justice cannot wait.”
This chant was followed immediately by “If we don’t get it shut it down.” It is unclear as to what exactly would be shut down in the event the protesters didn’t get their way. Perhaps the “it” was a reference to the university? Your guess is as good as mine.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho…Student debt has got to go,” could also be heard and on occasion, the crowd chanted “Black Lives Matter.”
One young man protesting in the crowd with the number “144,000” around his neck, told Berman that his name was Jacob Maze and that he was 27 years old. He also told Berman that the number represented the amount of his school loan debt.
When asked what the protest was all about, Maze said that the “rally” was against student debt and that “young people are frustrated in America today” because of the debt.
Maze further said that he had been a “victim” of student debt, owing $144,000 in student loans. He concluded by saying that it was “Predatory to allow children to take out this type of debt at their young age.”
Maze would later make another speech near the conclusion of the march and tell the crowd that he was a “poet” with “books for sale.” He would also blame the “banks” that loaned money to him and other students for higher education, of having “sold off the world” and of having “got their “f’ing bailouts.”
Who knew that “voluntarily” seeking a loan was akin to abuse or that banks destroyed the world by loaning money and requiring a loan to be repaid with interest?
At one point in the chaos, police can be seen talking to one of the demonstrators on a sidewalk after separating him from the crowd.
Immediately, as if on cue, the crowd began repeatedly chanting in unison for the police to “let him go.” Much to the dismay of the crowd, the young man was taken into custody without incident.
This protester briefly taken into police custody during #MillionStudentMarch in Pittsburgh tonight #wtae https://t.co/pYLz5JkoE9— Beau Berman (@Beau Berman)1447380321.0
The protesters eventually circled back around to the location where the protest had begun.
Once there, an unidentified speaker claiming to be from the Socialist Alternative, a Trotskyist political party that describes itself as “a national organization fighting in our workplaces, communities, and campuses against the exploitation and injustices people face every day,” began speaking to the crowd and reminded them why they had attended the protest.
The crowd was told by the speaker that their “demands” were for a “tuition free public university, a cancellation of all student debt, a $15 per hour minimum wage for all campus workers and that Black Lives Matter.”
He also made reference to the conflicts at the University of Missouri and said among other things that, “…institutional racism has to go the way of the dinosaur.”
His message further called for all students to become part of “every union” and to join in the “new era of mass struggle.”
He concluded by saying that “We shutdown Oakland and made everyone stop and stare and understand what we fight for.”
Judging by the signs being held up by protesters, I’m guessing that those in their cars concluded correctly that the fight was for principles of socialism.
Oakland is no stranger to protests.
In April of this year, more than 1,500 workers, students and local activists took to the streets to join in a nationwide day of protests calling for higher wages.
And the University of Pittsburgh staff appears to be involved in the “cause” as well.
That year the Pitt football team refused to sideline their African-American fullback and linebacker, when requested to do so by those who didn’t want them to play against a Southern university’s football team. The South was going through racial turmoil at the time and the southern football team didn’t want African-Americans to be allowed to play.
The Pitt sports editor concluded his article in The Pitt News, the university’s daily student newspaper by saying, “The Missouri football team can’t be the last football team to use its platform to promote social change. Here’s hoping this is a catalyst and not an exception.”
The fact that the current protests are being compared to civil rights’ issues are farfetched at best especially, when it is becoming clearer each day that these protesters are not who they appear to be. Even the University of Pittsburgh protest included a speaker with a socialist agenda who may not even be enrolled as a student there.
However, what seems certain is that those who are participating in recent protests at some universities, are apparently far more interested in anything but getting a higher education.
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