Pitt says political projection on Cathedral was not authorized

A United Steelworkers campaign to project an image supporting the presidential ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Pittsburgh landmarks included a brief light show Sept. 15 on the Cathedral of Learning.

The next day, Pitt issued a statement that “an outside party — acting without the University of Pittsburgh's prior knowledge or permission — projected an image onto the Cathedral of Learning's exterior. Once alerted of this incident, Pitt Police ordered that the image be removed, and the outside party complied.

“As a 501(c)(3) organization, the University cannot directly or indirectly participate in, or intervene with, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

Pitt’s policy on participation in political campaigns says that “individual members of the University community have a right to participate or not, as they see fit, in the political process so long as there is no conflict with the discharge of their regular duties.”

According to the Tribune-Review, USW spokeswoman Jess Kamm Broomell said union officials launched the batlight campaign as an alternative tool in an election where the opportunity for door-to-door campaigning has been limited by the coronavirus pandemic. She said staffers were careful not to trespass and kept to public lands with their projector.

The Gulf Tower in downtown Pittsburgh, Carrie Furnace in Rankin, the Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore and Mt. Washington hillside all were used as backdrops for the projections.

— Susan Jones


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