Jutta Sundermann's blog
The largest trade union in Pittsburgh called – and many hundreds of people came on Wednesday night to the manifestation in the State Point Park.
Here the pictures can tell more than words.
The organisers expect 3,000 people. Before it darkens there are already several hundred. There is live-music on a large stage, food stalls and creative action-groups at the fringes. And over and over again the message for all: with “green jobs” people will be made happy and the climate could be saved.
“Please, take plenty of green money into your hand!” – is the message of these banner-bearers. One stall further one of the co-organisers tells me that he believes in a more ecological capitalism. He informs all passersby about ways towards an own solar plant and distributes car stickers which are in high demand.
Although life in a tent city is usually quite easy going, with the rain showers driving people to seek the shelter of the pavilions, the long shadow of the afternoon event looms: Joseph Stiglitz is expected, at the big discussion in the Monumental Baptist Church next to the tent city (yes, I know, actually it is the other way around). Before that is the press conference. The density of journalist starts increasing. I have a meeting with the ARD television team and a radio journalist.
The large congregation hall which in the last few days we had used as our general abode, was particularly tidy, and a podium for the prominent guest and his fellow podium-people was ready.
On Tuesday a small demonstration for the right of affordable accommodation went from the Hill District downwards. My feet are touching here more tarmac than during the past months. Again down to “Downtown”!
Target of the protest: the immense banking-tower of the Mellon Bank. In 1813 already Thomas Mellon founded this bank, the family earned millions with coal and steel and today you encounter their name anywhere: ice-hockey in the Mellon Arena, study in the Carnegie Mellon University. Within the framework of the finance crisis the bank was bailed-out with 3 billion US-dollars.
The list of accusations against the bank is long. As coal-baron already the Mellons showed hardly any consideration for the rights of their employees. As the Mellon Tower rises above most of the other buildings in the city the march to it is an obvious contribution to the G20-protests.
Neither on Thursday nor on Friday will Pittsburgh produce pictures like the vast immense protests in Seattle on the occasion of the 1999 WTO-ministerial conference. Then more than 50,000 blocked the inaugural event of the world trade conference.
I walked through Pittsburgh, starting from my base camp, the small town of tents “on the hill”. Sniffed a lot of exhaust fumes, found broken houses and large bill boards. And finally some other places where already today protest preparations can be seen.
Curious people have to search long to find out about events ahead of the main action. The daily “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette” comments about the situation: "It is very hard to keep track of all of the protests planned around the G20. It would help if the anarchists were much better organized, and with a bigger marketing budget." So – maybe it will turn out to be a strong point of the protest that everything here is a bit confussed.
The police has some trouble coping with all. Yesterday the officers had to admit that they have not read the conditions for the two larger demonstrations (the “March for Jobs” and a demonstration with the motto “G 6 Billion Journey & Witness”) and were blocking the demonstrations longer than they were allowed.
Already at 7am the sun is shining. The city of tents has grown. Not the area, that remained quite small, but colourful tents are standing now where yesterday still was open space. There was short-lived excitement because of a “break-down” of the bus from Rhode Island. Then came the “all clear”. The group could continue their travel, in front of tent city the first bus from New York stops.
… slowly the camping ground is filling up.
There are workshops ahead of the “March for Jobs”
There intense discussions about “health insurance”, “workers’ rights” and “right of housing”
I arrived twice in the USA.
In Philadelphia I had to enter officially. From the plane it went directly into a dark-grey hall with many counters with generally gloomy looking officers. Information signs everywhere: No picture taking! Cell-phones prohibited! Forbidden by sign board too: to treat the men at the counters in an unfriendly manner. No clock in the whole room. I got 1.5 hours for the connecting flight and queuing for ages. Fingerprints, picture, interrogation. “My security officer” was drilling me why I intended to travel to Pittsburgh at this time. Now I would like to know my rights in the same way as I know them when dealing with German police man. The man in front of me wrinkles his face and finally slams an immigration stamp into my passport. Rushing to the next queue. Kept in line by separating tapes hundreds of people are standing in long queues, to get again through the security checks.