PITTSBURGH FOR TRAYVON—Bekezela Mguni reads part of her organization’s letter to the URA. (Photo by J.L. Martello)
Last week, the organization Pittsburgh for Trayvon moved forward with their efforts to improve conditions in the Black community with a visit to the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority board on Aug. 8.
“We love Pittsburgh, and we are here to demand that the URA stop its campaign of economic violence against Black neighborhoods,” said Bekezela Mguni, one of the group’s members. “This is our home. Long after your contractors and developers have finished their projects, we remain.”
The organization delivered a list of 14 demands to the URA that are aimed at what they call “systemic injustice and White supremacy in Pittsburgh.” The demands include a section on the development of historically Black neighborhoods, property and land use, and community-directed development. Another section pertaining to the URA calls for the elimination of food deserts—neighborhoods without an accessible grocery store.
Pittsburgh for Trayvon was born out of a sit-in during a rally at Freedom Corner on July 14, in response to the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial. Since that time, the organization has presented their list of demands to Pittsburgh City Council and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
Their recent action at the URA came days after City Council adopted a Will of Council in response to the group’s demands. However, the group’s organizers said the resolution did not adequately address their concerns.
In addition to City Council’s response, Councilman Bill Peduto, who is the democratic nominee for mayor issued a statement in response to the demands. In his response he demonstrated what he has already done in an effort to address their demands, including a resolution he cosponsored after the killing of Trayvon Martin, calling on Florida’s government to investigate the killing and to repeal their “stand your ground” law.
“I want you to know as your Mayor I will use the power of my administration to begin to address these issues in a systemic way,” Peduto said.
Pittsburgh for Trayvon also received a response from Mayor Ravenstahl after the group staged a sit-in in front of his North Side home. The group had originally went to the mayor’s office to deliver their demands personally, but took their efforts a step further when the mayor refused to meet with them.
“To those who wish to demonstrate, I have heard and read your concerns. I wholeheartedly believe in the right to peaceful assembly, however that does not give anyone the right to damage private property and to frighten people’s young children,” Ravenstahl said. “I want to stress that we have done much to address many of the points raised—increased hiring opportunities for our residents, made college more attainable and affordable with the Pittsburgh Promise, invested millions of dollars and leveraged funding to revitalize our neighborhoods, and worked with law enforcement to decrease crime across the city.”
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