During the days leading up to and throughout the visit by the G-20 plus 3 add-on members, the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania experienced an excessive military and paramilitary invasion of the city. What was blatantly clear was that this city was used as an exercise in Martial Law. To put this into perspective, back in December of 2001, before the Iraq War, and as the Taliban was a force to fear, 5000 International Assistance Forces were on the ground securing the capital—Kabul, from the Taliban, spreading over 16 square miles. Pittsburgh had between 4000-5000 military and paramilitary forces within 7 square miles.
Carl and I were on the ground photo documenting this military style takeover of an American city by our own national guard, who violated the Posse Comitatus Act by manhandling and arresting civilians because the civilians were not responding to their Martial Law maneuver dictates, such as “move along or step back” commands to their liking.
It was very clear that the local governing bodies: city and county officials were made impotent as they were pushed aside by higher commanding authorities. Watching the invasion was not unlike witnessing what one has seen occur in other countries.
The comical part of the display of brand new “GI Joe toys”, equipment and riot gear “outfits” accessorized the Martial Law-like invasion. The several thousand paramilitary Jackboots swarmed Pittsburgh from as far as Tucson, Arizona, and Border Patrol stations, as well as from Montgomery County, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and a variety of surrounding towns and suburbs encompassing Western Pennsylvania, in addition to other locations around the country, which were not noticed. In addition to these Jackboots, there were troops from the Pennsylvania National Guard, Port Authority police, Homeland Security suits, Secret Service suits, FBI suits, Norfolk and Southern police, Allegheny County police, Pennsylvania State police, Coast Guard, and others that manned the skies with surveillance aircraft and helicopters.
This was a show-of-force never before seen in any city in the United States! Of course, there were similar “Force Invaders” seen in cities hosting presidential nominating national conventions, and in Seattle, Washington during the World Trade Organization gathering.
It was perfectly clear that more paramilitary forces were being trained in the execution of Martial Law. Forces in Pennsylvania have now experienced how such actions are performed. One can say that 3000-4000 protesters made up of college and university students, labor, anti-war, single-payer health care, and anti-G20 demonstrators, as well as others, including Tibetans, Burmese Monks, Africans, and individuals and groups objecting to free-trade policies, and the theft of global capitalism by the world’s financial and corporate elites who have destroyed the nation’s economy and manufacturing sectors appeared to be a national security threat. What has amazed all of us was what was so frightening about these protesters who have been given the right to protest their government under the U.S. Constitution? Theoretically, to have had around one
“Force Invader” for every 75 square feet was an occupation.
But wait! There were 25-50 twenty-something “anarchist” types referred to as Black Blockers and sympathizers. Now, that must have been why the “Force Invaders” were so scared, and the G-20 held up in the fenced off Pittsburgh Convention Center’s Green Zone needed so much protection!!! For every single anarchist-type, a mass of 1000 “Force Invaders” were required to keep the peace.
On Thursday, in a section of the city called Lawrenceville, around 400-500 people gathered in Arsenal Park with signs to begin their protest march. What would have been a mile and one half walk toward the city had been cut off because their permit had been denied in spite of multiple requests. This angered the crowd.
I, and many others, have to believe this permit was denied to incite trouble. The “Force Invaders”, who turned into “Force Herders” wanted to anger the protesters enough so they could practice maneuvers and strategies that would likely be used under an authorized and declared Martial Law scenario.
The core 25-50 protesters were immediately blocked from the streets and so began the “Force Herding” process. The attempt to herd the protesters began to immediately break down as the protesters found alternative routes in their attempt to fulfill their protest march objective. Once the protesters realized that the “Force Herders” would use all tactics to break up their crowd, the tactics failed completely.
Surrounding Arsenal Park were paramilitary and military forces numbering up to two dozen each covering street corners within 2-3-4 square block areas.
The “Force Herders” were in full regalia donning brand new riot gear outfits with shiny new crowd control weapons, and Transformer-like helmets. They brought in an LRAD deafening sonic sound machine mounted on the back of a spanking new armored assault pickup truck, along with a Brinks sized armor plated newly bought flat black assault monster truck. The LRAD had never before been used on U.S citizens, so this was its national debut test run. Unfortunately, the renegade marauding anarchist-types decided to fight back and unleashed their vengeance upon LRAD forces by pushing a rolling Dumpster down from the top of the hill they had occupied for a brief moment. The Dumpster came twisting and rolling down the fairly steep hill finally coming to an abrupt stop by making contact with the LRAD pickup. The anarchist types dressed in black pants and black T-shirts, sneakers, chain belts, tattoos, and pierced skin, as well as face masks resembling 1880 cowboy bank robbers, cheered and jumped up and down in victory, and then vanished into the allies and back streets of Lawrenceville evading the Keystone Cop type troopers who showed signs of fatigue after chasing the kids all around the several block area. Remember, the cops wore over 60 pounds of riot gear as they carried smoke and tear gas weapons, in addition to rubber and real bullet weapons, while the kids wore only their Keds, P.F. Flyers, Michael Jordans, and Sketchers. Watching all of this was not unlike observing the Roadrunner out smarting Elmer Fudd dressed up as a soldier. The cat and mouse game the youthful anarchist-types engaged in demonstrated their anger and strategy by breaking a few store windows and turning over Dumpsters in the roadways so as to block the “Force Herders” in their pursuit.
The residents of the community watched their neighborhood being taken over by the “Force Herders”. The people began to cheer for the underdogs in this reenactment of Martial Law.
Later, well into the cat-and-mouse, catch-me-if-you-can-Kopper game, the anarchist-types moved a few blocks north where the “Force Herders” began to unleash their frustrations from being fooled-with onto a bicyclist who did not “step back” fast enough, whereby several “Force Herders” pounced on him. What was so poignant was in front of the broken plate glass windowed Boston Chicken, where nearly two dozen bike cops had amassed ready to offer support to the herd of riot cops blocking Baum Boulevard, around 4-6 African American middle school and high school kids began laughing and taunting the “Force Herders” by yelling out in chant “Who do you serve. Who do you protect?” They laughed out loud and pointed at the riot cops totally unafraid of the Jackboots, since such encounters were not foreign to them.
One reason the Jackboots were protecting this street’s intersection from onlookers was because the world’s lady elites left the G-20 Green Zone and were chauffeured along the overpass as their limos drove off to Theresa Heinz’ estate for drinks and catered finger foods showing off their glittered gowns of glamour.
As evening fell over Pittsburgh, the exercise in Martial Law went into full riot mode as college students, in the section called Oakland, were herded and controlled. Another bicyclist was clubbed off her feet, as a single student was muscled by a few National Guard soldiers into an unmarked tan Crown Victoria. We could not figure out if this was set up by the military to scare the protesters, or if it was real.
Now the jailed amounted to somewhere between 75-95. Ooh, the bad kids were locked up and off the streets. I feel saver already.
Friday pushed away the drizzly rain for nice protesting weather as a peaceful gathering of marchers assembled in Oakland, and with an approved permit, headed toward downtown Pittsburgh, the site of the G-20, along 5th Avenue to the front entrance of the City-County Building, where speakers and musicians had been eagerly waiting on the steps. Cindy Sheehan was in the crowd witnessing all the excitement.
The “Force Invaders” had erected Jersey Barriers, and paramilitary, along with military from everywhere had assembled covering every 5 feet of sidewalk for blocks of downtown Pittsburgh. The riot machinery had been moved in and was on the prowl ready to engage in trouble. Yet, none occurred.
Later that night, in the student section of Oakland, around 400 young people amassed to the chagrin of numerous riot police. Crowd control was executed, while most of the G-20 members and their entourage got the hell-outa-town! Rolling highway closures were in full usage. President Obama’s ceremonial closing remarks were now a thing of the past, as many students were taken away to the jail.
All-in-all, this was a waste of hundreds of millions of dollars, probably exceeding billions, when considering salaries, benefits, relocation expenses, all the new equipment, outfits, rentals, machines, commercial aircraft diversions, air space control, and more spent on the Martial law exercise. Added to the cost would be lost wages, and lost business for those who never saw a penny of the G-20 money.
Now, Pittsburgh can resume its normal life without all the blockade cages, para-military and military forces embarrassing the city.
Thanks for reading, jerry