As the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh September on 24th and 25th draws near, it seems as though everyone has just now realized that preparation is important. Government, businesses, every day people who don’t give a damn, and protestors are now working out all the “what ifs”.
There has been quite a fuss over whether or not there will be enough security. Not wanting another Seattle style debacle, the state, county and city have stepped up their efforts. It has just been announced that the Pennsylvania State Police will be sending 1000 troops troopers to help keep the peace. That is probably a good thing since I seem to remember hearing that the City of Pittsburgh only has about 900 cops.
Downtown businesses are also getting a little concerned. It is difficult to tell how much of this is genuine concern and how much is the local news media trying to stir up fear. After all, fear = ratings in the news business. Much of the worry is real, however. If downtown Pittsburgh is shut down due to the G-20 meeting or any related disturbances, that is two days of lost revenue for many small businesses like restaurants. Workshops are being conducted in which Yinzers are asked to try to speak intelligibly when dealing with foreigners. I guess “Yinz goin dahn air where Kaufmann’s used to be at to get a jumbo sammich, n’at? ” isn’t the way some people want to be represented – but that is a topic for another post. The Pittsburgh Regional Business Coalition for Homeland Security has a whole site set up to help businesses prepare for everything from the inevitable transportation problems to all out revolution. Which brings me to a question which is probably on the minds of many Pittsburghers: Who is protesting and why?
With the world economy being pretty much in the crapper, you can bet there are a lot more people who are pretty pissed off at the movers and shakers who control the money. It is often assumed that the protestors are somehow “professional”, and I am sure there are a few agent provocateur types in the mix. But if someone would like to direct me to the part of monster.com where I can get a job shouting angrily at world leaders I would appreciate it.
Oddly enough, out of all the parties involved, the protestors and anarchists in particular seem to be the most prepared. Most people hear “anarchist” and think of black wearing, firebomb throwing squatters who want nothing more than to destroy society. I think a little understanding of their cause and the motivations of other protestors could go a long way in keeping some peace around here next month. Understanding who is protesting and why can be a little difficult at times. They’ve got a lot of issues with the G20 members regarding economic policy, but also the use of force and restrictions on freedom. I am not exactly sure how smashing a Starbucks’ window helps a cause, though I appreciate the contempt for homogenized culture and consumerism. I think I get it, but local organizers, the Pittsburgh Organizing Group and resistg20.org can probably explain themselves much better than I can.
Here’s hoping the meeting of the Group of 20 in Pittsburgh goes well for all – businesses can operate, police keep their cool and stay safe, protestors get to have their say also keeping their cool and staying safe, and Pittsburgh gets another shot at shaking off our smokey, “Hell with the Lid Off” image from the 1970s. After all, we all know that Pittsburgh is now “Hell with the Lid Back On”.