anarchists, hippies & dissenting grandmas: pittsburgh activists at a glance

after much fanfare and fear mongering, the g20 economic summit arrives in pittsburgh this week. though it was billed as a fantastic opportunity to showcase how the city is shedding its rust belt past and reinventing itself, who knows what the world will see of the steel city. the local media whipped the public into a frenzy about the perils of protesters, and the city government didn't do much to assuage anyone's fear of life, commerce, work or education happening alongside the exercise of free speech and assembly, so most downtown businesses, offices, streets and schools are completely shutting down. it's a shame.

i can't predict what will happen in demonstrations this week, and i don't know anything about groups that are coming in from out of town, but i do know a little bit about the activist community in pittsburgh. they are not the wild, destructive caricature the media would love for you to fear. pittsburgh protesters are a peaceful lot: students, members of the clergy, working people and families and a lot of retired people, like your grandma. and the anarchists? they're not so scary or violent, either. the ones i know are vegan.

some demonstrators might be willing to get arrested for peaceful acts of civil disobedience in order to draw attention to their political concerns, but that is a far cry from criminal vandalism or violence. i've never experienced a demonstration in pittsburgh that was anything but peaceful. of course, it only takes one idiot to escalate an action--whether a bonehead with a paint can and an ax to grind or a tough guy with a badge and an itch to test out his riot gear. my hope is that calm heads will prevail and all idiots, on both sides of the line, stay home.

since i'm eight months pregnant and no longer live in the city, i'm not participating in any protests this week, but i thought i'd post a few pictures of some of the less-than-ominous protesters who call pittsburgh home. they might be pissed about war, poverty, or lack of health care, aggressive military recruitment of low-income minorities or the deleterious effects of globalization on the two-thirds world and environment, but they call pittsburgh home and aren't looking to wreck havoc in a backyard they love. they're seeking to exercise their first amendment right to dissent and peacefully proclaim what they believe to be just, which is about as american as apple pie.

aging hippies, kids, tiny dog

see the tuba, keyboard and drum? i suspect that a sizable contingent of youthful protesters were in high school marching bands. not so scary, folks.

do beware the mama protester, babe in tow;)

I love my country
By which I mean I am indebted joyfully
To all the people throughout its history
Who have fought the government to make right
Where so many cunning sons and daughters
Our foremothers and forefathers
Came singing through slaughter
Came through hell and high water
So that we could stand here
And behold breathlessly the sight
How a raging river of tears Cut a grand canyon of light 
--ani difranco


Kelly said...

took me awhile to find the little it.

Misty said...

:) we mamas w/ babes in tow are a rascally lot, eh?

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