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(en) US, Boston, BAAM #26 Out Now! -- I. (1/2) A Radical Response to the G20 and Capitalism in Pittsburgh By Audrey

Date Mon, 05 Oct 2009 16:16:08 +0200



We are proud to release the 26th issue of the Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement
Newsletter. ---- In this issue: ---- A Radical Response to the G20 and Capitalism in
Pittsburgh, By Audrey, Pg 2 ---- Baam news blurbs, Pg 3 ---- Smashin’ (The G20) Fashion
Show, by Clara Hendricks, Page 4 ---- Running Down the Walls, by Jake Carman, Page 4
Residents Take Action Against Foreclosure, Beat banks, By Jake B, Page 5 ---- 1919 Boston
Police Strike, by Adrienne, Page 8 ---- Bread and Roses Festival, by Jeff Reinhardt, Page
9 ---- A Radical Response to the G20 and Capitalism in Pittsburgh By Audrey ---- On
September 24th and 25th, radicals and anti-capitalists from across the country got
together to march, make their voices heard, take direct action, and otherwise confront the
G20 Summit while the meeting of the world’s 19 richest countries and the E.U. went on
behind closed doors in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The White House announced the location of the Summit only four months prior, much to the
surprise of Pittsburgh locals, while radicals in the community immediately began
organizing as the Pittsburgh G20 Resistance Project (PGRP), with participation and support
from the Pittsburgh Organizing Group (POG), among other organizations based in Pittsburgh.
Groups requesting permits for marches and assemblies found their requests denied, leading
to the filing of lawsuits against the city by the American Civil Liberties Union.

No one knew how many people to expect; law enforcement estimated that 3000 individuals
would show up and threatened to arrest 1000 of them. There was an issue of funding
security for the summit and of attaining enough police to ensure that things didn’t get
‘out of hand.’ The city, with the help of the federal government, barely met its goal of
getting 4000 police and scrambled together enough money to pay for the total security
expenses that would top $20 million. Now the city and the organizers had to wait and see
who turned up, and what would happen after all their hard work.
Following the trend set in Miami, law enforcement set their sights on places suspected of
harboring anarchists and demonstrators. The 4-acre permaculture farm Landslide was
surrounded and its residents were harassed for much of Monday. The reason the police gave
for targeting them: there were several old tires piled on top of each other nearby on city
property. The siege ended the next morning when, under the watch of the police, the tires
were hauled off by the city, as farm residents had long requested they do, thus
eliminating the stated cause of the visit.
Sunday and Monday, the police harassed Everybody’s Kitchen and the Seeds of Peace group,
there to make free food and provide street medic trainings. The police impounded the Seeds
of Peace bus, which contained tools for the volunteers. One member was arrested and
charged with giving a false name to a police officer. She gave her nickname, ‘Thea,’
instead of her full name. After that, all the Seeds of Peace volunteers wore stickers that
read, ‘My name is Thea,’ and on the 23rd they filed a harassment lawsuit against the city
of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Police Department.
On Tuesday, the PGRP held a community gathering and picnic attended by 300 and heavily
surveilled by police. On Wednesday, the first direct action against the G20 happened. The
local media, desperate for protest footage, were on top of it within minutes. Six
Greenpeace activists rappelled off a bridge near downtown Pittsburgh and hung a $5000
banner that read, ‘DANGER: Climate Destruction Ahead.’ They were arrested and bailed out
immediately. Meanwhile, worries mounted that Thursday’s un-permitted march would only be a
couple hundred people and would end in mass arrest.
Thursday was the beginning of the official G20 meetings and also the beginning of mass
actions against the G20. At 2:30pm an un-permitted march was slated to assemble at Arsenal
Park. People began arriving at 2 and by 2:30 there were around 1000 anarchists and
anti-capitalists on the scene, joined by Cindy Sheehan (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
reported 1100, other media outlets reported as many as 2000 and as few as 500). The police
had the park almost surrounded and were dressed in riot gear. You could feel the energy in
the air as the march moved into the street at 2:45.
Police and the National Guard blocked off the intended route with concrete blocks, police
cars, and a BEAR (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response vehicle) with an LRAD mounted on
it. The LRAD, or Long Range Acoustic Device, otherwise known as a ‘sound cannon,’ is a
‘less-lethal’ weapon that the military has been using in Iraq and Afghanistan, though
never before in the U.S. It can cause permanent hearing damage, leaving some victims deaf
for life, and is intended to cause incapacitation in its targets by using intensely loud
beeping noises somewhat similar to a car alarm. The LRAD also played a pre-recorded
message in English and Spanish that said, ‘By order of the City of Pittsburgh Chief
Police, I hereby declare this to be an unlawful assembly. I order all those assembled to
immediately disperse. You must leave the immediate vicinity. If you remain in the
immediate vicinity you will be in violation of the Pennsylvania Crime Code no matter what
your purpose is,’ followed by a list of what means could be used to disperse them.
Meanwhile, police began to fire smoke grenades into the crowd, and the march moved down an
alley and onto another street. This same scenario played out dozens of times over the next
few hours and it became evident that the police were prepared to do anything they needed
to keep this uncontrollable group of anarchists away from the downtown area.
At one point early in the march, with an LRAD-equipped barricade below, a small group
decided to take matters into their own hands, grabbing a nearby dumpster and wheeling it
to the top of the hill. The anarchists sent the dumpster flying down the hill towards the
police barricade with all their might. At the last second, the dumpster veered away from
the truck. This was only the first round of what turned into an anarchist bowling game,
wherein dumpsters are bowling balls. In response, the police threw canisters of pepper gas
at the crowd.
Around 5pm, police brought an 18 page warrant to a communications office 15 miles outside
the city. The raid resulted in arrests with two felonies and a misdemeanor for each of the
two people running the twitter-comms feeds. They spent 34 hours in jail before their
$35,000 bail was met, but other comms spaces continued functioning for the entire week.
During the march, lots of locals, particularly the working poor, came out of their houses
to watch the march proceed down their streets. While the overall response to the anarchist
march was mixed, supporters were not hard to find. One resident said, ‘I don’t want my
city to be full of all these damn cops.’ Another, referring to the actions of the
anarchists, said, ‘This is the best thing that’s happened in Pittsburgh by far in the last
50 years! Keep going!’ Local students even got into the mix later on that evening as the
march reached at Schenley Plaza. At 10pm a Bash Back! demo began in a commercial district
while students and demonstrators were still in a standoff at Schenley Plaza. The queers
and trans folk of Bash Back! smashed many corporate business and bank windows, dragged
dumpsters into the middle of the streets, and set them ablaze. Best of all, as the Bash
Back! march passed, a Pitt Police substation had all its bulletproof windows repeatedly
and determinedly beaten.
The students and anarchists ran through the streets till around 1am, when those who had
not been arrested returned to their housing to get some sleep for the permitted march
scheduled the next day. That night, 40 students and demonstrators (majority students) were
arrested and a minimum of $50,000 worth of property damage was inflicted. Along with
rubber bullets, bean-bag projectiles, smoke grenades, pepper spray, and the use of the
LRAD, a number of helicopters flew overhead all night long with their searchlights on,
looking for those elusive ‘violent anarchists’ who had evaded arrest all day.
On Friday, the last day of the G20 meetings, liberal groups planned a permitted march.
There were many smaller marches that would lead to the general march, and I decided to
join the radical queer sex-workers. When the radical queers appeared on a street corner,
around two dozen riot cops stood guard across the street. They seemed more interested and
amused than anything else and after 20 minutes they left us to go harass another group. We
walked down towards the main march and had a lot of fun on the way. We began
choreographing our marching to some show-tunes, adding a lot of color and pizzazz to the
boring college neighborhood we passed through. The main march was intended to go straight
downtown, with 2 stops on the way. When our group of radical queer sex-workers got to the
main march, we were all astonished at the sheer mass of people who were gathered there.
There were reports of a minimum of 5000, and a maximum of 10000 protesters there. There
were unions, a Jobs for Justice group concerned about ‘womyn workers being oppressed by
the system,’ there were anarchists, Code Pink, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and just
about every group you could possibly think of. Liberals and radicals came together to
reject global capitalism, to discuss how ‘free trade is the problem,’ and critique the
‘style of the G20’ in general.
The entire downtown area of Pittsburgh was a clearly defined police state. There were
10-foot tall fences and other barriers set up with barbed wire at the tops. Every corner
and every block had at least one line of riot cops and National Guardsmen, dictating who
could go where. Police K-9 units patrolled the streets while red and blue lights flashed
everywhere you looked. Entire streets were barricaded off and getting anywhere from
downtown was close to impossible.
After the exciting events of Thursday night, there were whispers of a call for a similar
assembly on Friday night at Schenley Plaza, the location of the previous night’s
activities. Around 10pm, between 150 and 300 students, anarchists, and other demonstrators
showed up, not sure what to expect. They were accompanied by a crowd of (mostly student)
onlookers who stood across the street from the plaza. The demonstrators slowly arrived and
rows of riot cops began lining the perimeter of the plaza. Things were completely placid
aside from a bloc of Pitt students holding up a mock Stanley Cup and chanting, ‘Go Pitt!
Go Pitt!’ and ‘Steelers! Steelers!’ Eventually a BEAR equipped with an LRAD showed up and
red and blue lights could be seen at the nearby intersections. Somewhere between 400 and
700 law enforcement officers arrived and, line by line, they began to clear out sections
of the plaza, swinging their batons around, shoving, kicking, and pinning groups in for
arrest. All the while the LRAD was broadcasting the tired-out order to disperse or be
subject to ‘less-lethal force and arrest,’ though many present, including many arrestees,
never heard the dispersal order. People began to panic and the onlookers tried to flee
while protesters and students evaded police lines. Many leapt over a line of large, thick
bushes opposite the Plaza. One young person was riding his scooter around in a circle and
yelling shit at the police. After making it around the seething cops once, he started
around again when men in camouflage leaped out from the police line and shot AR-15s loaded
with rubber bullets at him. After the kid fell to the ground they ran over and began
kicking the crap out of him and put him in plastic cuffs. By this point the police upped
their violence, deploying pepper gas, the LRAD, rubber bullets, bean-bag projectiles, and
pepper spray. They rushed the shrinking group of protesters and students attempting to
escape onto the side road and arrested another 100 or so. Pittsburgh police posed for
pictures with their prey (anyone they could arrest) either on the ground with an officer’s
boot on their back, or hoisted up by the plastic cuffs on their wrists, with an eye out
for ‘hot girls.’ That night, about 6 helicopters scanned the city till around 3 in the
morning with their sights on the communities of Oakland, Bloomfield, and Lawrenceville.
Overall, only one person from the ‘New England vs. G20’ crew was arrested, and she was
released with two misdemeanors. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for October 21st. 190
people total were arrested during the G20, far fewer than the 1000 the Secret Service and
the Pittsburgh police had threatened. Immediately after Thursday and Friday, students
raised their concerns to the media about police violence, particularly of incidents where
police successfully terrorized and brutalized passive students.
The protests were a very positive moment the anarchist movement in North America because,
although the press did go overboard with footage and discussions of ‘anarchist violence’,
the residents whom we talked with afterwards agreed with the anarchists on a lot of
things. Pittsburgh locals did not reject the anarchists. Some people even blogged that
they ‘wished someone would smash the windows at their work so they got a day or two off.’
There are at least 55 pending lawsuits against the city of Pittsburgh and the police
department. The University of Pittsburgh administration has threatened to suspend and even
expel any students that were arrested over the week and found guilty, though they are now
offering clemency. The ACLU and other legal groups are helping both the students and the
demonstrators with their individual lawsuits, and the student ACLU group at Pitt is making
noise about the threat to expel and suspend students who were unfairly arrested. Most of
the police violence is already on youtube, and the city will doubtless pay for that. There
has been no word of people going deaf, or losing a significant amount of hearing as a
result of the use of the LRAD.
A few questions remain: How did so few of our anarchist and revolutionary comrades end up
arrested? Maybe we were better organized and prepared beforehand. Maybe it was the support
of the locals, who sometimes even offered groups running from the riot cops space to hide
in their houses. Or maybe it was because of students who came out feeling the same anger
toward the pigs who took over their town as the protesters had towards capitalism.
----------------------------------------------
Please print out and share. Download the PDF
http://boston.indymedia.org/usermedia/application/6/Baam_26.pdf
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