Pittsburgh Police arrested four people affiliated with community organizing group Northside United around 11 a.m. Thursday for blocking the doors to the Del Monte Building on the North Shore.
Members of Northside United said they were blocking the doors in order to protest Continental Real Estate’s unwillingness to negotiate with the organizing group for better wages for workers in the Del Monte Building. Continental developed and now manages the Del Monte Building.
Three of the people, Rachel Canning, Angel Gober and Barney Oursler were released on the scene after being cited for civil disobedience, according to Canning and Police Sergeant Lou Gaila.
The fourth person, Paradise Gray, was arrested and taken to Allegheny County Jail for resisting arrest, Canning said. Gaila confirmed that Gray was taken to the jail for resisting arrest, and officials at the jail said he was being held pending arraignment.
Jennifer England, who handles media relations for Northside United, said Northside United members had made many attempts to meet with Continental and other developers on the North Shore in the past.
The organization did not attempt to meet with members of the Del Monte Corporation today or Continental Real Estate, and instead decided that civil disobedience might force a meeting between parties.
Many of the newer buildings on the North Shore do not have unionized workforces, unlike buildings Downtown, and England said Northside United protests this because non-union workers earn a lower wage, which in turns leads to a higher crime rate.
According to other members a large man tried to exit the building while two female members were blocking the door by attempting to force the doors open and push them out of the way. England said she put her hands on the door to try and prevent the man from injuring the women.
According to England, Gray intervened in the matter, because he was concerned about the safety of two female members, Canning and Gober. Canning said Gray was videotaping the event and was not involved in the protest before trying to help the girls.
Gaila — who arrived on the scene after another police officer, Officer Zett, arrested Gray — said Gray was given a verbal warning to vacate the doorway and refused.
“He resisted the officer’s attempt to pull him away from the door,” Gaila said.
“That’s the huge injustice,” Canning said after Gray’s arrest, “because he wasn’t resisting arrest.”
She added that the group had not anticipated anyone being so aggressive in their attempts to leave the building.
The Del Monte Corporation refused to comment at the scene, and has not returned phone calls.
Henry Clay Webster contributed reporting for this story.