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G20 Indecision.

As certainly everyone who lives in Pittsburgh knows, The G20 Summit will be happening in town later this week.

I have to admit, I'm torn.

On the one hand, I feel like the biggest wimp in the world for even considering not going down there. I feel like it's 1969 and I live in Vestal, NY but I just don't feel like going to a concert this weekend.

Except I think it's less like Woodstock and more like the 1968 Democratic National Convention, or, perhaps, like Days of Rage. As certain as the news media seems to be that all the protesters will be flinging urine-filled balloons and setting cars on fire, that's how sure I am that the cops will be beating people up indiscriminately. Maybe my arrest really did have the desired effect, because I really don't want to waste another weekend in jail for no reason other than that the cops disagree with my politics.

Of course, it may not even matter. Thus far I know of two cases* of police harassment of people I know personally, who were not involved in anything protest-y at the time. One, because he was hanging out in a household of known anarchists, making music and minding his own business, and one who was actually arrested and charged with several felonies because he ran a red light on his bicycle. The police made it clear that he was arrested for looking like an anarchist while being in Pittsburgh; when they arrested him they asked all sorts of questions about where he was from and if he was in town for the G20.

I still don't know what I'm going to do, but I think I'm leaning toward jail support. I remember how much it meant to me, after two and a half days in jail, to be released and find people waiting outside, cheering for us, and offering us hot meals, cigarettes, and rides to wherever we needed to go. I may be afraid to get my head bashed in at a protest, but I feel like the least I can do is bring a carton of smokes down to the jail and support the folks who are willing to put their butts -- and their skulls -- on the line.

ETA: Make that three cases of police harassment thus far, and we're only talking about within my personal circle of friends.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 21st, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
I'm not going to go because I don't think there's that much of a point. I mean, what would I be protesting? International capitalism? Good luck with that. And I've also been to enough actions in my life to know that there is always someone who's just there because they want to behave like a jackass, and that shit makes me rage just as much as people who abuse their authority. I'm too cynical to be much use at slogan shouting. There's always a "But..." in the back of my mind.

Also, why on Earth is everyone in Pittsburgh pissing themselves over protesters? To hear people talking, we're about to be invaded by giant robots wielding flame throwers when in reality it's just a few thousand people with placards and a couple dozen who might throw something blunt.

Edited: On second thought, maybe I'll get myself a pair of black skinny jeans and an old t-shirt and go sit next to the security perimeter and eat an apple or something similarly completely innocuous and legal.. I'd love to engage in perfectly legal activities while looking like an anarchist just to draw some police attention so people can clearly see how fucking idiotic all this freaking out is.

Edited at 2009-09-21 08:04 pm (UTC)
Sep. 21st, 2009 08:05 pm (UTC)
I was watching the news today (this may become its own separate post) and they did a story about a protest that happened downtown today. A good story. They covered all those Journalism 101 W's -- Who are you? What are you doing? Why are you doing that? Etc. -- and the protesters they spoke with were articulate and clear about what they were protesting, why, and what they hoped to achieve.

And then the newscaster capped it off by saying something asinine like "While this was obviously a peaceful protest, the protesters were unable to tell me whether actions would turn violent later on this week."

Really? You mean the people you spoke with weren't clairvoyant? Golly, what a shock.
Sep. 21st, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
LOL I saw a Trib headline this morning that was all "FIRST PROTEST PEACEFUL ZOMG!!" Gosh, really? You don't say! Please try to contain your completely irrational shock over that fact.
Sep. 21st, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
I'm of the opinion that street protests won't do a lot nowadays as opposed to using the media to divert attention to websites exposing the crap that goes on.

The Iraq War protests were generally ignored.

But if there are protests, the ACLU and NLG have things covered, and your help in the "war room" would certainly be appreciated. If the cops arrest anyone or attack anyone, a quick and strong response is important.

Hopefully, they'll learn that covering protests is the easiest thing in the world to get overtime for if they can rein in their desire to beat up and arrest people who likely won't fight back or resist.
Sep. 22nd, 2009 04:02 am (UTC)
What he said. The Philly NLG/ACLU have been bombarding me with emails to come out to Pittsburgh to be a legal observer (which I did many times, from the time of the 2000 GOP convention until the first kid was born and I couldn't justify taking 4 hours off in the middle of the afternoon to go watch demos) If I were still totally unemployed, I'd be out there in a heartbeat, but I need to keep this job...g-ddamn responsibility

If you want me to put you in touch with the guy who's organizing the Philadelphia legal observer detachment out to Pittsburgh, I'll happily do it-- they might still be looking for crash space for people heading out.
Sep. 22nd, 2009 04:13 am (UTC)
From what I understand, Pittsburgh is getting cops from other cities as backup. This could be good, or bad. The Philly Civil Affairs cops are really easy to deal with-- the only times I've ever seen problems here have been with ordinary beat cops who may have never dealt with this kind of disturbance, freaky looking kids, etc.
Sep. 21st, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
I'd kick myself if I don't get over there on at least one day. As it is, I can hop the bus or T over to south side of the Smithfield Bridge and walk across. I think it'll be okay. I'll also take my camera.
Sep. 21st, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC)
Risking arrest isn't for everyone. Some people are more vulnerable than others. If I get arrested, I lose my job. Other people can get deported, or longer sentences, or post-traumatic stress.

You can still help out by doing support work. That doesn't make you a wimp. The revolution isn't all going to be young white men at the barricades, nor should it be.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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