PITTSBURGH: Threatened Eviction of Community Activist Stopped by Serve the People-Pittsburgh and community mobilization

By Alex Meins

Between 8-10pm Thursday, Serve the People-Pittsburgh and community members mobilized in Larimer to shut down an attempted eviction of a community anti-gentrification activist.

Shortly before 8pm, 4 members of Rhino Security, the private security force of developer Keith B. Key of Keys Property Management Services (KPMS), threatened a community activist in the Larimer neighborhood with eviction. She and activists of Serve the People (STP) stood their ground in a parking lot across from Larimer Pointe development and demanded Rhino Security leave immediately and cease harassing and making threats against the community activist.

Citing that they felt “threatened” by the activists, Rhino Security called the Pittsburgh Police, about a dozen showed up within minutes to support Rhino in their eviction effort along with a Constable.

Activists from STP drew community members out from their homes, gathering a crowd in support of the threatened community activist, with the neighborhood youth following enraged community members in shouting insults at the police and security forces. Community activists chanted that the police only arrive to harass and evict, and do not exist to protect the community from crime or anti-people activity.

Activists and community members shouted the slogans “We have nothing to lose but our chains”, “It is right to rebel”, and “Black lives matter” as the police attempted to push the people out of the street and back into their homes.

Repression breeds resistance, and the people responded by taking the street and blocking traffic. Community members shouted “They don’t want black women angry! They don’t want us to yell!” and “They have us like slaves on a plantation!” while also raising the chant “Keith Key is a scum-lord!”, a play on the term “slumlord”.

larimer anti-eviction taking the street

This follows just days after STP activists and community members successfully disrupted and shut down a ribbon-cutting event by gentrifier Mayor Peduto and Councilman Burgess in nearby Lincoln-Lemington. The community had exposed Keith Key for evicting another anti-gentrification activist at this disruption.

A community member present at both the ribbon-cutting disruption and the anti-eviction mobilization told Incendiary News that the attempted eviction was an act of political repression and retaliation for the disruption, and for criticizing KPMS’ slum conditions. The previously-evicted community activist told Incendiary News that the gentrifiers will “sit in the grave they dug for me. They’re going to sit right in it”.

During an ad hoc mass meeting held when activists went to flyer, they checked on the activist and tenant, and she reported that she has not been harassed since but is worried of their return. It’s the hope of those involved to combat that fear and reveal the truth, that the enemy is weaker than they puff themselves out to be.