Check out this piece!Thousands opposed to G-20 march through Pittsburghhttp://www.comcast.net/articles/news-national/20090924/G20.Summit.Protests/By MARK SCOLFORO and RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI, AP
9 hours ago
PITTSBURGH — A vociferous but peaceful group of several thousand people marched for miles through the downtown area on Friday, united by opposition to the Group of 20 summit but expressing a diversity of mostly liberal causes as an army of stone-faced riot police watched their every move.Dozens of black-clad anarchists were conspicuous among the demonstrators, but there was no sign of the disturbances that had resulted in arrests and property damage a day earlier.
Public safety officials said Friday night that 83 people were arrested at protests and other events and about $50,000 in property damage was done during the two-day summit, which ended Friday. They said a man who smashed store and business windows in the city's Oakland section on Thursday night was responsible for about $20,000 in damage.About 60 more people were arrested at an illegal gathering Friday night in the Oakland section of the city, near the University of Pittsburgh, police said early Saturday.The main message of Friday's so-called Peoples' March to the G-20 was a demand for solutions to the planet's economic and environmental challenges different from those the world's richest countries are pursuing. But there also was a strong contingent of anti-war protesters and those interested in such diverse issues as African debt relief, rejection of corporate subsidies and more humane child-labor laws. Forgot about the ones who were protesting the gathering altogether didn't they?
"We want money for jobs, not war, money to clean up the environment," said Pete Shell, a protest organizer.President Barack Obama said the protests had been relatively peaceful, adding that previous world summits drew far more protesters than came to Pittsburgh. He described many as opposing capitalism and free markets in general, and said he supported their freedom to express their views but disagreed with them. How the hell would he know what the people or protesters wanted, he was totally esconsed in security.
There also was a festive spirit in Friday's crowd — colorful flags, bicyclists,
a group of hula hoopers, a large parade puppet in the shape of a dove, a small brass band and a correspondent from Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," who drew a mini-crowd of his own. Bikers? Evidently these people didn't see the cop thugs beating and arresting bicyclists!
The march had been issued a city permit and organizers pledged to keep it nonviolent, a goal they stressed to participants, even though some were determined to test police restraint. Gasp!
A group of black-clad anarchists, their faces covered, faced a line of police officers and sang, "We all live in a fascist bully state" to the tune of the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine." Anarchists also came nose-to-nose with officers, to little effect.
Leaders of 19 countries and the European Union were meeting downtown, in sight of the Andy Warhol Bridge. When the protesters reached the bridge, they stopped and shouted toward the summit. Some gestured obscenely; one woman on a bullhorn yelled, "Power to the people, not the G-20."
At the park where the three-hour procession ended, volunteers dished beans, rice and salsa on tortillas out of pots and coolers while speakers talked of convicting the G-20 leaders of crimes against humanity.
Joshua Nichols, 24, of Telluride, Colo., drove 24 hours to participate. He described himself as a migrant who shovels snow in winter, cleans houses, works on an organic farm and teaches preschool in the summer.
"I am here because I think the G-20 is in part an organization among others that leads to the subjugation of people all over the world," he said. "We need to stand up and say that we're going to put an end to this or it's going to get ugly."
Ed Cloonan, 62, of Munhall, Pa., handing out signs in favor of a single-payer health care plan, said he wanted an end to what he called the "cancer of the insurance system."
Fifteen-year-old Rosi Lowe, a student from Pittsburgh, was in the crowd with a classmate for a school project on the G-20 and had formed a conclusion: "I feel like it's real exclusive and doesn't represent the entire world." Amazing, even the kids get it.
Friday's march had some marked differences from a Thursday afternoon march that ended with clashes between police and anarchists.
The Thursday march, far smaller, did not have a permit and police declared it illegal almost as soon as it began.
Small bands of anarchists responded to officers' overwhelming show of force by rolling huge metal trash bins, throwing rocks and breaking windows. Police fired bean bags and canisters of pepper spray and smoke.
Later that night, hundreds of officers surrounded what was mostly a large gathering of University of Pittsburgh students in the Oakland neighborhood. The area was adjacent to where G-20 participants opened the summit, but leaders were long gone by the time police declared the gathering illegal and fired canisters of pepper spray and smoke. They conveniently avoid the students were on campus and that they were trapped and sprayed one girl's neck was bleeding and despite her pleas, was not allowed to pass the well armed riot gear wearing cop
Civil liberties groups decried what they called a heavy-handed and unwarranted police response to the Thursday protests. They complained that riot officers focused on largely peaceful, if unsanctioned, demonstrations when they should have been paying more attention to small groups of vandals that smashed windows of city businesses.
The police response was on the minds of demonstrators on Friday, including anti-war movement leader Cindy Sheehan.
"We need jobs, we need health care, we need education, we need housing," she said at the final rally. "We don't need the united police states of America." At least she was mentioned
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has praised officers for their work to minimize property damage. No protesters have been seriously injured.
In all, several businesses were damaged Thursday and scores of people were arrested on charges, many for failing to disperse and obstructing traffic.
Police Chief Nate Harper said a 20-year-old California man was responsible for most of the damage, breaking some 20 windows and doors in Oakland, including windows at a Citizens Bank branch. The man was jailed on charges of criminal mischief, possessing an instrument of crime and providing false identification.
Harper and public safety Director Michael Huss praised law enforcement for the handling of events related to the G-20. More than 65 law enforcement agencies, including the Pennsylvania State Police and departments from Boston, Milwaukee, Chicago and New York, assisted. How many?! I would like to know all the names of agencies involved!
Huss said the city, whose downtown area had been largely blocked off, was beginning to take down barricades and reopen roads to traffic and should be finished by Saturday.
Huss also credited residents for putting up with traffic restrictions and other inconveniences because of the summit.
Associated Press writers Michael Rubinkam, Daniel Lovering, Vicki Smith and Dan Nephin contributed to this report.