(Cross posted from Working Stiffs)

Since I had last Wednesday off from my blogging duties, I didn’t get a chance to follow-up on the G-20 Summit. That’s just as well, I suppose, since the biggest part of the melodrama is still going on.

The expected violence and destruction of property was kept to a minimum, compared to what has happened elsewhere. Sure, there were some demonstrators run amok, complete with broken windows and dumpsters overturned. But the numbers of protestors were much lower than anticipated. The police presence was massive and kept them at bay.

More or less.

There was a bunch of Pitt students who say they were just hanging out on campus—their campus—and who were manhandled and arrested when they refused to disperse. Or they tried to disperse, but were blocked from returning to their dorms.

The Citizens Police Review Board is now getting involved. Did the police use excessive force? Possibly. I don’t know. I wasn’t there.

Which is kind of my point. We all knew these G-20 Summits bring out all the wackos of the world for a kind of “Let’s bust things up convention.” None of us who live in or around Pittsburgh wanted to see our city trashed. So a lot of police were brought in. A LOT of police.

Some are saying it was overkill.


Would anyone have said that if only half the cops showed up, but all of the expected protestors did? I think not.

The massive police presence was a preventive measure. Ordering crowds to disperse was a preemptive strike so that things wouldn’t get out of hand like they have in other cities.

So my question to the students who are crying foul is this? Why the heck didn’t you stay off the streets when the media and the Internet was buzzing about how bad it was going to be and how many cops were going to be out there? Were you surprised to see police in riot gear? In this world of all-encompassing news, be it television, Internet, or cell phone generated, how could you not know what you were in for?

Do you have a right to hang out on your university’s campus? Sure. Is it the smart thing to do when all hell is breaking loose around you? Um, probably not. Seriously, folks, if there were rioters and police clashing on the street in front of my house, I can guarantee I would not be sitting on my front porch watching it, even if it is my own property and I have every right to be there.

Just so I don’t sound like I’m totally taking the cops’ side on this (although I am), I will say I’m sure the police probably overreacted to the peaceful gathering of students on the campus. I’m also sure I’d rather have them overreact than sit back and let the mob mentality take over.

One last thing that bugs the hell out of me. All the folks who were protesting banks and corporations…tell me, how did you get to town? In a motor vehicle? Didn’t a big corporation build that car? And isn’t it fueled by gasoline from a big oil company? Did you pay cash for it? Or did you take out a loan? From a bank?

Because unless you rode into town in a horse and buggy, I’m thinking you’re being just a little bit hypocritical.

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Comment by Dana King on October 9, 2009 at 4:01am
Yes, Benjamin's points are will taken and well put.

Assuming no harm came to anyone, spending a night in jail might not be the worst thing that could happen to a college kid. Give a chance to see how the other half lives, lest he has ambitions in that direction.
Comment by Annette Dashofy on October 8, 2009 at 9:58pm
Well said, Benjamin.
Comment by Benjamin Sobieck on October 8, 2009 at 2:53pm
Cut the police and protesters some slack, but hold both of them accountable.

I went to a Rage Against the Machine concert in Minneapolis during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Hundreds of riot police showed up, but somehow, through a lapse of common wisdom, the concert attendees did not bust the sidewalk in two. They did not throw things at the police, they didn't overturn cars and they didn't turn the Target Center in a scene from Omaha Beach. Still, they were as defiant as they were peaceful.

Was that overkill on behalf of the police? Yes. But consider the jerk who thought the best way to convince people of his anti-Republican views had thrown a bench through a St. Paul Macy's storefront window a few days before. It's a two-way street. One million peaceful protesters are more effective, and draw less police ire, than 10 property-destroying jerks.
Comment by Annette Dashofy on October 8, 2009 at 6:48am
No problem, Dana. I wasn't aware of Pitt's notice to the students until Joyce commented, either. It does cast a different light on the news reports. I'm just happy nothing devastating happened. Kids ending up in jail is way better than ANYONE ending up in the ER or the morgue.

And once a Burgher, always a Burgher! ;-)
Comment by Dana King on October 8, 2009 at 6:27am
Thanks, Annette. I wondered if Pitt had put out some direction, but didn't know for sure, or what it was, or how close the protests were. I still consider myself a Burgher, though I live halfway between Washington and Baltimore, so I have to depend on locals for the scoop.
Comment by Annette Dashofy on October 8, 2009 at 5:16am
Dana, check out Joyce's comment over on Working Stiffs. Her son works at Pitt and she offered an insider's look at it. As for kids being kids, yes, of course they will. And as I understand it, charges are being dropped (case-by-case basis) for many of those were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Comment by Dana King on October 8, 2009 at 12:48am
"Seriously, folks, if there were rioters and police clashing on the street in front of my house, I can guarantee I would not be sitting on my front porch watching it, even if it is my own property and I have every right to be there."

True, but from what I've heard there wasn't any clashing going on at Pitt. Downtown's not very far away, but this sure sounds like the police were extremely heavy-handed. This would have been better handled with a uniformed cop--not in riot gear--going up and telling knots of students, "Hey, guys, you know we got a potential situation here and we're not supposed to let groups past a certain size gather. How about you move it along, and things will get back to normal in a couple of days?"

Or something like that. if it didn't work, you ratchet up the request. Unless there's a lot more here than meets the eye, arresting them was too much. Whether they showed good sense or not, they're college kids, so they're going to test what they can get away with a little; it's what they do. And, last time I looked, there's a right of assembly in the Constitution.

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