Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Summit Summarization

By Annette Dashofy

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.


Martha Reed said...

I'm glad the G20 was relatively peaceful especially since it was foisted on us with such short notice. My fear was that the police might overract (say, like Chicago during the Democratic convention years ago) and our fair town would get a black eye it didn't deserve. I'm delighted that didn't happen.

And as for the professional protesters, you can't scare me with imported talent running around in Polar Bear suits (although I support the Polar Bears) because I've been bumping into members of the Furry Convention for years and a protesting Polar Bear has nothing on a man dressed up as Wily Coyote standing next to me in the lobby coffee line!

Annette said...

You make a good point, Martha!

We've definitely seen our fair share of weirdness in Pittsburgh over the years.

Joyce Tremel said...

The students are off base. Number two son who works at Pitt said that ALL students and staff received emails from the administration telling them exactly what would happen if they strayed outside during any protests. So the students who wandered outside, or just "happened" to come upon the protest got exactly what they deserved. My son also said that most staff and students are on the side of the police, which you'll NEVER hear on the local news.

Personally, I like how the Greenpeace protestors who were protesting emissions tied up traffic for a couple of hours which created even more emissions because cars were idling.