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Sep. 24 2009 - 1:50 am | 127 views | 0 recommendations | 2 comments

Bored to Death at the G20

pittsburgh G20 riot gear

Police in riot gear at pre-G20 rally appear bored in Pittsburgh's Point State Park (Photo by Laura Imkamp via Flickr).

Pittsburgh residents are on pins and needles that the City of Champions is ground zero for today and tomorrow’s G20 summit. Perhaps it’s because Pittsburghers are a practical bunch and fears of being doused with cat urine and/or flying feces have gotten the best of them in the six-month run up to this international spectacle. However, it’s much more than that. Hosting presidents, chancellors, and prime ministers from the 20 wealthiest nations in the world, it turns out, is kind of a clusterfuck. It clogs up traffic, shuts down businesses and universities, and costs the city money. Fistfuls of money — $16 to 25 Million — at last unofficial tally.

No matter where you live in Pittsburgh, traces of the G20 are everywhere. Flocks of helicopters circle overhead at all hours — from Apaches and Blackhawks to ghettobirds and news choppers. Murdered-out SUVs and camo-clad Humvees have been spotted on highways and neighborhoods for the last week, and have only increased in number in recent days. Secret Service, FBI, U.S. military, and an armada of law enforcement officers– from Pittsburgh Police and state troopers to off-duty cops from surrounding municipalities — are posted up in every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse, and doghouse in [the] area. In other words, Pittsburgh is on lockdown — Terror Dome 2.0 style.

8.09.80

Greenpeace activists repel from Pittsburgh's West End Bridge.

But aside from massive inconvenience, local, national, and international news outlets have been scrounging to unearth the usual tales of police brutality, shocking behavior from protesters, and death that often accompany the summit. Monday came and went with little disruption. Tuesday produced the Seeds of Peace controversy. And the biggest shit to hit the fan yesterday was the Greenpeace bridge-jacking that found the arrested activists being arraigned last night.

As of this early morning posting, Pittsburgh looks like a town hunkering down to ride out a hurricane, plywood in place covering glass-paned windows and empty streets within the downtown security perimeter.

Today is the main event however. And at last check, Anarchists are gearing up for a war with police. So chaos may yet be unleashed amidst a barrage of rubber bullets and tear gas. Let’s hope intelligence prevails. All we can do is wait and see.

PS: On a positive note, the attention the G20 brings may finally allow Pittsburgh to shed its tarnished image as a backdrop fictional characters yearn only to escape — e.g. Flashdance, Gung-Ho, Deerhunter, etc. But that is expecting alot.


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    About Me

    I am a writer, editor, and blogger who lives and works in the once-decaying heart of America's Rust Belt (i.e. Pittsburgh, PA). My work focuses on subculture, crime, mental health, race, class, and creativity.

    My writing appears in Spin, Good, XLR8R, Next American City, RaceWire, and Swindle, among other print and online publications. I have reported on the decline of sampling in hip-hop; interviewed artists and musicians who survived Cambodia’s killing fields; investigated the struggles of U.S. military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder; and shadowed graffiti writers, coaxing candid confessions about their obsession with illegal art.

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