So the G20 was in Pittsburgh last weekend. I don’t really have much to say about it beyond the fact that the massive police presence (4000 police)–many hired specifically for this occasion from other departments around the country, also including national guard, etc.–appears to me like a clear case of (over-)accumulation to prevent the movement and realization of an alternate, or subaltern, history. (Archivally) over-accumulate police! Then no Seattle!–I suspect was the thinking behind this. Original estimates planned on something like 35,000 protesters. The actual amount of people at both licensed and unlicensed protests was more b/t 3,000-5,000. (By all accounts, there may have been more police than protesters. . . .) I don’t know if this says something about pittsburgh, the current state of things, or whatnot, as I cannot lie about a general kind of ambivalence toward the whole thing–i.e. if the G20 had been somewhere else, would I, in my cloudy-haze of academic self-absorption, even have noticed beyond a passive reading of the news? But all in all, it was one of the more-interesting times to be living here in my now going on 6 year tenure. Many of the shots from television and such occurred only a couple blocks from my house. The town was shut down, martial-law style. (One guy said it was like Kent State mixed w/ Mardi Gras.) And commentators couldn’t help but overly-stress how pgh has bounced back after the disaster of the late-70s and 80s. It is a lovely town to live in, yes. It is cheap, livable, and has fared better than many places during the “recession.” But come on, it’s still pittsburgh, and any perusal of much of the town will reveal a past which it is desperately trying to escape, a city defined by antagonisms: a mixture of weird post-apocalyptic ruins and Banana Republics; an infrastructure which is barely being held together mixed w/ SF-like health-care; complete geographical racial and economic segregation mixed w/ exciting sports championships; yinzers and state-o-the-art education.
So, some media:
That said, my friends and colleagues Molly Nichols and Katherine Kidd, two quite amazing women, were more-or-less literally taken off the streets to appear on the Sean Hannity show. Watch the interview here. It is awkward, to say the least. Who knew that being a lit. PhD was a way to get on tv, and Fox News no less.
This recent story on a judge’s ruling in favor of the city police, a lawsuit brought against the city by Seeds of Peace, literally occurred right outside my window. The day they towed the SoP bus away from its location on Melwood Ave., parked in front of no one’s property, and not hindering traffic flow in any way, I was sitting at my window working and overheard the entire discussion b/t the police and the owners of the bus. I can say w/o compunction that the police were unnecessarily harassing the owners of the bus, had no reason to be there (i.e. I guarantee none of my wonderful neighbors called them about the bus), and were quite obviously abusing their power. I can’t help but think that the police said to themselves something along the lines of: “oh, there’s a dirty anarchist bus. Let’s get rid of them. Otherwise they might disrupt the G20.” In terms of what I overheard, they towed the bus b/c either a) the owner was not present, b) the owner could not produce documentation that s/he did in fact own the bus, or c) one of the people involved provided false identification. Whether or not any of those things are true, they might as well tow every car on my block. It would be as justified to randomly come up to me and ask me to prove that I own my car when parked on the street.
Lastly, on a slightly lighter note, please visit hotmetalbridge.org, as our new call for papers just went up.