The Third International after Lenin

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Eyewitness Report: 9/24 G20 Protest Actions in Pittsburgh

The following special report was written by Dante Strobino from Raleigh Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST) youth group who attending this Day 5-Sept. 24 protest:

Over a thousand people gathered in Arsenal Park in Pittsburgh to resist the G-20 countries meeting in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center downtown. Young activists representing struggles against racism, gentrification, imperialist wars, gender oppression and environmental destruction gathered together in an effort coordinated by the Pittsburgh G-20 Resistance Project. Protesters began their march through a working class neighborhood of Lawrenceville towards a bridge to get into downtown. The march continued down Liberty Avenue in an unpermitted demonstration taking over the streets with banners that read “No Hope in Capitalism”, “No Bailout, No Capitalism” and “No borders, No banks”.

Protesters were eventually stopped at the bottom of the street by police who confronted them with high frequency sound blasts and orders to disperse. Protesters then redoubled back and confronted cops again in the middle of a residential community. As resistance continued to mount up, anarchists grabbed a dumpster on wheels and hauled it down the hill directly into the police barricade, not harming anyone. The police reacted with more violence by attacking the entire neighborhood with several canisters of OC gas, Oleoresin Capsicum, a new police weapon meant to cause temporary blindness and breathing pain. From then on many different groups broke away in different directions and some marched together back towards Oakland, the neighborhood which houses University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

Police had been bused in from dozens of states including states as far away as Arizona and Florida, along with National Guard and SWAT units. Armed guards with camouflage humvees were stationed at every exit of the beltline around the city, blocking off entry. Most all businesses downtown including cell phone stores, apparel store, banks and restaurants were completely boarded up following Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s suggestions, putting many workers out of work for the two days while the G-20 meets. At the universities and museums all monuments were also boarded up or covered with bags to continue to promote an atmosphere of fear. Police had to be hauled around town in several city and school buses to head off protesters. Department of Homeland Security and police helicopters have been roaring overhead the city since Wednesday night.

On their way back to Oakland through the Birchwood neighborhood a few windows were broken by protesters including a cop car window, a window at a PNC bank, BNY Mellon bank and at a BMW dealership, all of which symbolically represent institutions that are responsible for the economic crisis. A few hundred protesters continued to take the streets and make their voices heard throughout the evening. At one point, the protesters stopped the police with a stream of projectiles. Police responded with brutal blows of bean bags, causing injuries. Protesters defended themselves by blockading the street with a large chain link fence obstructing the road.

At 10 p.m. BASH BACK! organized a protest for LGBTQ liberation in Oakland near Carnegie Mellon University. Nearby at University of Pittsburgh students were gathered close to the bridge to Schenley Park, where Obama had earlier visited Phipps conservatory.

Heavy-handed police repression ensued, including the usual electronic dispersal order and tear gas, but this only attracted more and more protesters and onlookers, and soon the crowd numbered up to 1000. Reports described students with t-shirts wrapped around their faces chanting “beer pong!” and “LET’S GO PITT!”

Through the next couple hours cops were chasing students into their dorms, attacking people leaving the bars and arresting folks who were not earlier participating in protests. By the end of the night more than 60 were arrested.


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