Solidarity Reigns Despite Police Repression at the Pittsburgh G20

Clashes between police and G20 protesters continue into the night in Pittsburgh. A cycle of dispersal and regroupment has been underway since early this afternoon. Police ramped up their aggressiveness after being overwhelmed early at Arsenal Park. ((For pics and video visit:

Schenley Park just outside of the University of Pittsburgh, was the scene of some of the most volatile interactions of the day. At first, student onlookers, seemingly not initially affiliated with the G20 protests, challenged riot police and were violently repulsed. Then, protesters massed in the park and marched on the police line. Tear gas was fired, but the wind was with the protesters and blew the gas back on the police themselves. Massive numbers of police then surrounded the park. The protest dwindled as young people, fatigued by a day of being chased by the police through streets of Pittsburgh, retreated in search of food and much needed rest.

There was property damage today, but it was either defensive or immediately quashed by the protesters themselves. A sound and gas attack by police resulted in the overturning of some dumpsters — a futile symbolic act of self-defense not the justification for repression that the mainstream media has reported. Rocks in BMW and Boston Chicken stores were the frustrated outcome of a crowd whose right to assemble had been forcefully revoked. A small band of protesters went further, by smashing ATMs, but they were quickly persuaded against continuing by march organizers themselves.

The police were everywhere. Pinning down protesters, creating confrontations and randomly stopping and searching. Cops came from Ohio, Florida and Arizona. If their numbers were not enough, they employed anti-protest technology. A Long Range Acoustic Device was employed to beam out high-volume sounds and Twitter-journalist visually identified a microwave heat machine which wasn’t used, but stood at the ready to repel demonstrators. Such tools of repression have no place inside a democratic society.

The protesters were brave, standing up against overwhelming repression, policing themselves and sending the message that capitalism has failed them and billions of others around the world. Equally encouraging were the actions of residents of Pittsburgh. Many extended solidarity to the protesters — opening their homes for relief, providing overnight housing free of charge and disregarding work rules to provide a tired demonstrator with a free glass of water or a seat to rest for a moment. Such acts of solidarity offer a basis to think about a different kind of society, one which moves beyond acoustic attacks and tear gas and towards democracy and freedom.

Billy Wharton is a writer, activist and co-chair of the Socialist Party USA. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Billy, or visit Billy's website.

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  1. Don Hawkins said on September 26th, 2009 at 2:05pm #

    But capitalism is not only inhuman and anti-democratic; it’s also unsustainable, and if we don’t come to terms with that one, not much else matters. Capitalism is an economic system based on the concept of unlimited growth, yet we live on a finite planet. Capitalism is, quite literally, crazy. Robert Jensen

    What Robert wrote that’s not really true. Well many Capitalists in control of the banks the policy the media you know are thoughts and business tell us in relentless manor day after day that we can’t live without it. The Earth is telling us another story and we the human race don’t have much longer with it. Again just the next few months in the Senate here in the States will one senator stand up and say we are talking about the survival of the human race in Copenhagen yes and remember the media is being control by the Capitalists and may get 15 seconds before moving on to more important things and that is, quite literally, crazy. Mad and yet they get away with it because money talk’s and shit walk’s at least for a little while longer. It’s not even money having a worth but debt another little part of Capitalism and again they get away with it. If we really think about it let’s go back to AD 410 when the roman empire finally lost its influence and the myth the World was put under. In today’s World far worst because it is done in such away most don’t know and so far worst. Many feel it but the eye doesn’t see.

    In AD476, warriors attacked the city of Rome and ended more than 800 years of glory for the “eternal city.” Historians mark the fall of Rome as the end of ancient history. The next one thousand years were called the Middle Ages. The Latin term for Middle Ages is “medieval.”

    The beginning of the Middle Ages is often called the “Dark Ages” because the great civilizations of Greece and Rome had fallen. Life in Europe during the Middle Ages was very hard. Very few people could read or write and nobody expected conditions to improve. The only hope for most people during the Middle Ages was their strong belief in Christianity, and the hope that life in heaven would be better than life on earth.

    The Dark Ages were anything but dark in other parts of the world. The Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa studied and improved on the works of the ancient Greeks while civilization flourished in sub-Saharan Africa, China, India, and the Americas.

    Europe began to experience great change by about 1450. Within one hundred years, Columbus had sailed to America, literacy spread, scientists made great discoveries, and artists created work that still inspires us today. Historians call the next period of European history the “Renaissance,” or the “rebirth.” The Renaissance is the beginning of modern history. Dowling

    Do the so called leaders, elites, know we are in a dark age now? I think not not that bright in reality not smart people how can they be holding on to a system that is destroying them and everybody else. Maybe smart is the wrong word wisdom they do not have. Well in just a few months wisdom I hope will be coming from the best minds we have now and will it help? Not without our help the little people. Think of this as kind of a war calm at peace. Capitalism is, quite literally, crazy.

  2. Don Hawkins said on September 26th, 2009 at 3:05pm #

    “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Oh we don’t see that let’s watch the Senate here in the States the next few months and all that soul and wisdom. Should be mind boggeling for us to see. Hay who is that man behind the curtain with that check book?