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(en) US, Another Month in the life of Pittsburgh Organizing Group

Date Mon, 21 May 2007 17:33:14 +0300

Due to the positive reaction we received to a recent report covering a month in the life of POG we decided to publish a second monthly report with the hope it might also be useful to activists in other cities. This month was like most others; pickets, protests, retreats, workshops, stories in the corporate media, court appearances, oh my. --- April 26: Workshop on resisting the G8 in Germany--- The second in a two-part series on the G8 and those resisting. The first part of the series was Globalization and Its Discontents: An Overview of the Global Economic Framework which explained the G8 within the context of a global economic framework that serves the interest of a few through the oppression and exploitation of the rest of us and the land and world we inhabit.

This was followed by The Showdown: Confront the G8 and Globalization in Heiligendam, which described the groups organizing on the ground to resist the G8, and what types of tactics and actions are scheduled/expected, the enhanced police powers and means of repression. It also covered the logistical information for folks considering going (keep in mind that our knowledge is limited) such as the recommended places to fly into, ways to avoid taking unnecessary risks to ensure you make it to the action, and the various convergence spaces that have been established for folks to stay at.

----April 29: Pogluck to get people involved----

On a nice warm Sunday around 25 people gathered in a local park to find out whether POG is right for them As a way of helping new people get involved in organizing, POG occasionally holds potlucks. We invite people who wish to get involved to come talk to us, get to know us, and hang out and have fun. For the first hour a couple members of POG gave an overview/orientation to new people. This covered how the group works, what we do, tactical and ideological tendencies within the group, how to get more involved, and left ample space for questions. After that other members of POG showed up to socialize. We’ve found this combination of a structured explanation and discussion space, followed by a general period of socializing and relaxation, best accomplishes the multiple goals inherent in these types of events.

---- Thursday, May 3, Court appearance for 13 arrestees from the POG-organized shutdown of NREC on March 2 ----

On May 3 13 activists arrested during the successful March 2nd blockade of Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) National Robotics Engineering Center went to court. The DA agreed to drop all three charges- possession of the instruments of a crime with criminal intent, failure to disperse, and obstructing of a public highway- if people committed to 25 hours of community service. The agreement was accepted and the judge went so far as to commend the arrestees for doing their part to end the war. The March 2 action was, by all accounts, one of the most successful and well planned anti-war events in Pittsburgh’s history. In response to a public call to blockade CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center, which develops robotics for the U.S. Army and Marines, multiple affinity groups barricaded the entrances to the facility using lock-boxes, u-locks and a tripod. We would like to thank all those who provided support during and after the action. Being able to pay our lawyers for their good work is nice, as is knowing there is a supportive and caring community of activists in this city and around the world.

City Paper, our local alternative weekly, ran a story on the resolution

For more details, photos, and media coverage about the March 2 action check out: www.organizepittsburgh.org/m2

----May 5: Counter-Recruitment Picket in Oakland----

After another cold Pittsburgh winter, the beginning of May finally saw temperatures rising, flowers popping up, and leaves beginning to return to the trees. It saw life renewing itself and resistance in the air.
With POG's counter recruitment campaign having entered its third year, our resolution was as strong as ever during another picket at the military recruitment center in Oakland. About 40 activists showed up to again challenge a local institution supporting and facilitating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while infiltrating our lives with the culture of militarism. Undetered by recent attacks on on our rights, our bodies, our minds, and our freedom we went out to protest. At least in Pittsburgh recently, repression has strengthened our resolve and our numbers. Every arrest, every attack, and every aggressive cop seems to have reminded us, our supporters, and everyone who see them that we cannot remain motionless while this world and its war machine (from far away armies to police in our communities) rumbles on. The station again closed during the protest and we handed out hundreds of flyers while engaging in a lot of personal conversations with passerby. Hundreds of Christian youth were next to us waiting in line to eat following some sort of revival and surprisingly a number of good conversations occurred. Following the conclusion of POG’s event some attendees walked to CMU to confront its military ties and were apparently involved in some altercations. As a policy we do not generally comment on events or actions we do not organize. This is in keeping with our statement of solidarity towards the movement that both precludes us from denouncing other demonstrators and focuses us on talking about our tactics and strategies http://organizepittsburgh.org/index.php?page=statements/solidarity

----May 5: Sacco & Spaghetti Benefit ----

In the first six months of 2007 POG organized 12 protest actions and a slew of other actions and events. In the course of our actions 17 arrests were made in four months. This means we need money to cover those legal costs. And that means holding FUNdraisers!

On May 5, 1920, anarchist immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were arrested and accused of murder and robbery. A year later, after an unfair trial, they were found guilty and sentenced to death. After seven years in prison fighting their conviction and their sentence, Sacco and Vanzetti were executed. On the 87th anniversary of their arrests, May 5, 2007, POG held a dinner and screened a movie about the infamous pair. Sacco and Spaghetti!

While arrests and repression are inevitable when challenging the state it’s possible to take steps to mitigate the negative impact on organizing. Money is necessary to keep projects sustainable and to get and keep out comrades out of jail. Holding fundraisers is a way for the larger community to show support for those facing repression and helps to create a climate of mutual-aid and solidarity.

--May 7/15 Workshop on the History and Tactics of the Global Justice Movement--

This two part workshop covered historical roots of the global justice movement and the economic/political conditions in which it formed. The major focus was on comparing and contrasting the strategic frameworks utilized for major summit protests in the US and Canada between 1999-2002 with a specific focus on; Seattle WTO in 1999, DC IMF-WB in 2000, Quebec City FTAA in 2001, and DC IMF-WB Peoples Strike in 2002. Far too often our movements fail to internalize the lessons of past events, or worse fail victim to our own historical revisionism. Looking at what worked and what didn’t can help us discern the key factors necessary to achieve strategic victories in the streets. The anti-war movement has galvanized a new group of activists and its important to bring this group together with those who became active in the post Seattle era. With major events like the 2008 RNC protests approaching it might be an opportune time to look back a little as we prepare the way forward.

----May 20 Making new signs and visuals---

One of the effects of holding so many protests is we go through a lot of visuals. Signs get stolen, damaged, or just plain worn out. Over the last year we've been making an effort to increase the quality and quantity of our protest visuals. On May 20 POG had a day of painting, cutting, drawing, and general artistic experimentation.

----POG Retreat----

As a group POG generally meets every two weeks. These meetings usually deal with logistical details of upcoming events, report backs, and the planning of small scale protests, actions, and educational events. We quickly found this wasn’t enough for us and so for the last couple years we’ve held semi-regular retreats. For 3 days we meet outside the city to engage in longer term strategic planning and discussion. Retreats are important for us because they provide a venue for longer term planning. With so much happening in the world and in our movements it’s easy to get caught up in the hectic nature of it all. Without looking at the long term we risk jumping from event to event without considering how they all fit together and how we can maximize our effectiveness. While its stressful to deal with the logistics of bringing so many people together it serves an important role in our work.

----This Month and Every Month----
Overall the month, much like last, has been fairly representative of what our group is up to on an ongoing basis. We had a slightly greater focus on non-protest events than usual and our retreat consumed a lot of resources. We also held two general meetings. Having refocused our campaigns and talked strategy we’re looking forward a summer and fall of resistance.

For more information on POG see: www.organizepittsburgh.org or contact us at pog@mutualaid.org

What’s coming up for POG:

Friday May 25 Prison Letter Writing, 7pm at the Thomas Merton Center

June 6 G8 Solidarity Counter Military Recruitment Picket 5:30-8pm at Oakland Station, 3712 Forbes Ave

Sunday, July 1, "Annual Anarchist Picnic," 1-6pm at the Andersen Shelter in Schenley Park, organized by anarchist members of POG. This is our fourth annual anarchist picnic and the largest explicitly anarchist event that takes place in Pittsburgh.
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