The contested arrival of political commentator Michael Knowles to the University of Pittsburgh campus was met by more than 200 protesters filling the streets around the O’Hara Student Center with the sounds of drums beating and chants of “trans lives matter here” and “if we don’t get it, shut it down.”
Pitt’s College Republicans invited Knowles, who said at a Conservative Political Action Conference last month that “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life,” to debate libertarian journalist Brad Polumbo in the event titled “Should transgenderism be regulated by law?”
Protesters marched from the Soldiers & Sailors hall lawn to O’Hara Street to coincide with the scheduled start of the debate. Police escorted debate attendees through a metal barricade into the building.
Around 7:30 p.m., protesters moved to the side of the building along University Place. When police gathered to block the alley, a protester threw a device that emitted smoke. A loud bang echoed through the streets. An “incendiary device” had been thrown at officers, Pitt’s Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management tweeted.
Pitt police subsequently delivered an emergency notification. “As the situation evolved, several buildings were temporarily closed and visitors to residence halls restricted as a safety precaution,” Pitt police tweeted.
Protesters returned to O’Hara Street, and the demonstration continued peacefully until after 9:30 p.m., when police ordered people in the area to disperse or else be arrested.