The G20 Protests and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The G20 Summit is in Pittsburgh from September 20th-25th and much is at stake.

The G20, which is formally known as Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, is an annual forum where the world’s 20 most economically powerful countries meet with other institutions and shoot the breeze.

According to Wikipedia:

“The G-20 is a forum for cooperation and consultation on matters pertaining to the international financial system. It studies, reviews, and promotes discussion among key industrial and emerging market countries of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability, and seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization.”

What is disturbing is that much of what goes on there is never made public and there seems to be no oversight of the festivities. That is a key point. Of course ‘national security’ is the main reason given for keeping things so secretive, but why not some oversight and at least some public accountability? It is an undemocratic institution that is compromised of mostly elected officials and therefore should have some accountability.

This big circus is rolling into Pittsburgh, PA in September and of course citizens and community groups are going to want their voices heard and try and get the media and officials to address their concerns regarding the G20. People not only want a healthy economy but they want to make sure that things like human rights and other concerns such as global warming or debt relief are addressed in a non-offhanded manner.

So the stage is set. The Summit is just around the corner, September 20th to the 25th. Although the city of Pittsburgh seems to be handling things well, the National Guard will most likely be called in to handle crowd control. If you go to the Pitt Post-Gazette site they have a link to the G20 articles that I am gleaming some of this information from. I think Pittsburgh is a good liberal blue-collar city and I don’t think there will be any major clashes but the presence of the National Guard is always a bummer. Your city is turned into a demilitarized zone, it puts a damper on the festivities.

Here is an excerpt from another article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. An activist is explaining why it is not cool to call in the National Guard unless it is necessary. It would be as if you went to a meeting and everyone had on boxing gloves and had vaseline under their eyes. It would change the dynamic a little.

“There is no state of emergency in Pittsburgh, there is no natural disaster,” he said, “only the placing of military combat troops in the Steel City, which will repress and intimidate democratic free speech and dissent.”

He is right. There is no reason to turn the city into a mosh pit if there is no threat. For what? A few broken windows? Please! It was probably a plainclothes officer anyway.

So, according to the reporter:

‘Lt. Col. Cleaver responded that the nature of the National Guard’s work has changed somewhat as a result of 9/11, taking on a more proactive role for security needs such as protecting airports and nuclear facilities.

“I would view this as a core mission of the National Guard,” he said of G-20 security.’

Ouch! That is what scares me. “A more proactive role for security,” is very scary. And that crowd control is a “core mission” of the National Guard when it is unconstitutional to have the military used in this fashion, is just reprehensible.

Using the  military, even the National Guard for crowd control purposes is unconstitutional. It is part of an effort to “secure our Homeland” as they so eerily put it. It is just awful that a government that can’t get it’s act together to help a city recover from a Hurricane can mobilize around every damn protest and intimidate, harass and abuse old ladies and kids. Just shameful.

It is very hard to protest. It is hard to get permits. It is difficult to get close to the meetings or organizations you are protesting. Pretty soon the ‘Free Speech Zone’ will be your couch. Without a permit you are subject to arrest. With a permit, you are escorted and controlled by officers in riot gear who are trained to treat you like suspected terrorists. It is a pretty dismal affair. People do not want to go to these things. Only the diehards will be out to subject themselves to abuse and have their voices drowned out in the media by the latest Primate Fiasco.


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