Sure the G-20 came to Pittsburgh and the whole world sat by in full yawn as to what was happening. Locally however, it was anything but a yawn. Local reporters on Thursday roamed our soon to be deserted streets in search of radical anarchist hell bent on disrupting the event, but at best the only problems they could find were of traffic congestion; not of people trying to come and disrupt the event, but to get out of town before it came.
If you haven’t seen riot police in full dress as of late it’s come a long way since the sixties. Marching in unison and beating their batons on their riot shields they are an impressive lot. Police from as far away as Texas and North Carolina showed up to bolster the local forces and were mass deputized to help out in the event anarchy broke free and tried to take over. We could use that kind of manpower on a regular basis in some parts of the city, but alas none of the protection was meant for us!
To be sure, when the twenty richest countries in the world’s leaders want to get together for a face to face, you need that kind of security. Amidst all the private jets and delegations from around the world including hundreds of reporters Pittsburgh became quite the busy place for forty-eight hours or so.
Cutting to the chase however, one might ask what was accomplished? Little politically, but on the “can we see a show of force” one can note that when you bring that many police together and tell them these are fairly dangerous times, don’t take any gruff from anyone, you get a few swinging clubs; and not the disco kind. Some rubber bullets were sent a flying and Friday night more than one observer was charged not with protesting, but with not getting out of the way fast enough. Suffice to say, all of the bad things that have happened at other G-20 get-togethers such as in Seattle, failed to materialize. Was it because there was such a show of force? Or was it because Pittsburgh is an ideal city to block off? I’m leaning toward the latter. You see, you either cross a bridge to get into town or do a tunnel and let’s face it, they were shut down long before anyone had the chance to march into town with garbage cans a blazing!
Plus, to protest you needed a permit. No question that you could exercise your first amendment rights. Just as long as the authorities knew who was doing the talking, where you intended to do it and when you intended to do and of course who you intended to do it with! You would have done better to appear on U-tube and broadcast your message. Although Green Peace’s dropping a flag off one of the bridges announcing environmental calamities not seen since the Pleistocene period was very nice and heralded what was to be an exciting few days of protests, little else really happened.
Of the many groups that showed up to protest, the one that got the most flack was the one that came from Montana to cook food for the protesters. I guess the authorities figured if you cut off the food the rest would go away, or at least pay a trip to a local restaurant. Sorry Mickey D’s, most of the groups were protesting capitalism, and you are the poster child for that baby!
Other than a great photo op, for the President and the dignitaries, the talks yielded little more than a wave of the hand, a great time to discuss how each country has lost in the latest financial boom, and a glass or two raised to celebrate that most of these people still had jobs. I must admit though, Pittsburgh sure looked good on the evening news, and for those of you that missed the G-20 – come see us, the city is even better when the people are here!