Monday, September 21, 2009

Ordering Popcorn For The Plunder Of Pittsburgh

After considering the claims in this complaint (thanks to City Paper for posting it), I am adding Propositions Board lines on the likelihood of a contempt citation and/or injunction being entered against the City of Pittsburgh for unlawfully abusing protesters during the G20 event (far right column).

After observing recent events, I also have begun to root for Pittsburgh -- unless it changes its approach quickly -- to take several serious black eyes during the event, plus at least a couple of six-figure damages awards in the litigation that follows. The 1999 WTO protests (left, right) cost Seattle's police chief and mayor their jobs, but my hopes are more immediate: If Bill Flanagan isn't serial-chugging Maalox by Friday afternoon, I will be disappointed.

There is still time to treat protesters lawfully and with respect, Pittsburgh. If for no other reason, do it for self-preservation.

UPDATE: I am hearing (not from the Post-Gazette or Tribune-Review, at least not yet) that City of Pittsburgh officers have begun wholesale stops of vehicles bearing out-of-state tags; have warned property owners not to allow protesters to congregate or park vehicles on their property; and have been encouraged to question anyone who 'looks like a hippie.' Great plan, Luke.

These developments have occasioned revisions to the Pittsburgh G-20 Soundtrack; next tune soon.


MH said...

I read that thing, mostly, and some of it seems a bit off. For example, they mention that the police had 'semi-automatic weapons', which is what police always carry. Then, they mention that the bus was parked facing the wrong way, which is illegal most places I've lived. And that the other bus was only blocking the sidewalk partially (which pisses me off because I've had a great deal of trouble moving a stroller around people who take the sidewalk like that). And they mention that they hadn't signed an earlier parking ticket, which has worked for exactly nobody in the history of bitching about parking tickets. I'm not saying they are wrong. Parts of it seem worrying, but it looks a bit like throwing gum at the ceiling to see what will stick. Or like a group wrote this and had to put in everybody's complaint, even if it was just muddying the water for the clearer cases.

Infinonymous said...

If it were a single incident, I would share your skepticism.

But there is the Hill District garden incident. The Convention Center "Oh, you had a permit?" incident. The Melwood Street bus incident. The Sassafras Street incident.

Plus the 'warnings' issued to property owners.

Vic Walczak's signature on the complaint reduces substantially the prospect of exaggeration or falsehood in the assertions.

I spoke with some Pitt students who said they were stopped for having a New York license plate. Another stop, involving a Michigan plate, may be discussed with a federal judge shortly.

The police are described as traveling in 30-officer packs, with ostentatious firepower, a surly attitude and a conspicuous disregard for civil liberties. Tossing around "national security" as an answer to inquiries concerning the apparent trampling of citizens' rights works on the street, but in a courtroom it probably will be seen as the type of tone-deaf arrogance that has earned the government of City of Pittsburgh the disdain of many, if not most, federal judges of the Western District of Pennsylvania.

I sense the "Miami method" at work. Whether that method discourages or provokes more intense protest activity seems a relevant question at the moment.

Bram Reichbaum said...

That's it. I'm getting a haircut first thing in the morning. Need one anyway.

Infinonymous said...

I suspect your name is already on the list, pal.

Bram Reichbaum said...

You would think that, wouldn't you? But I received an e-mail yesterday morning informing me that my White House + State Dept. press credentials were actually approved!

I already picked up my badge, my week long Port Authority transit pass, and a flash drive entitled "The Inside Story" from Allegheny County and Dan Onorato (pictured, front cover of packaging). I'm picking up a distinctive Love of Chair aroma from that last item but I haven't delved too deeply yet.

Infinonymous said...

(1) I doubt you are on the feds' list. It's the locals who will roust you.

(2) Have you scanned everything for RFID tags?

Bram Reichbaum said...

"RFID tags"

(Tilts head and stares blankly)

MH said...

Round 1 to the police:

RFID tags: Aren't those the same thing Target uses to stop people from swiping DVDs?