Despite dire warnings and hype from the hysterical mainstream media, tonight's "Go Pitt! Fuck the Police" rally proceeded with little incident.
More than 75 students showed up at Schenley Plaza, site of a confrontation with police in which more than 100 were arrested last night. Tonight, however, the students played with a hackeysack and talked easily. A score of police were scattered around the plaza -- with a fire department pumper truck parked nearby, and another a couple blocks away, near Soldiers and Sailors. But the officers kept their distance, and none of the high-tech hardware used on previous nights was visible.
Eventually, the students began marching up Forbes to the chant "No justice/no peace/Fuck the police." (There were a series of other chants as well, none of which were particularly respectful of the police bureau.) By the time they reached Pitt's Law Department, about two blocks away, they were joined by at least a half-dozen undercover police. The cops' presence was detected almost instantaneously. They were built like police, for one thing. One was wearing leather gloves, and could be seen fingering a gas canister. And one of them was wearing a Penn State hat. That's not even trying, fellas.
Perhaps the high point of the whole march, in fact, came when the demonstrators circled back around 5th Avenue, standing near Soldiers and Sailors. They began chanting "hey hey, ho ho, undercovers in the back have got to go," jeering at two of the most obvious officers, as if in a primitive shaming ritual.
The only moment of tension came when the protesters returned to the law building, where a tiny police substation is tucked away beneath a staircase. As the protesters chanted, police in riot gear emerged from Pitt Police vans and looked menacing. But the protesters soon departed and returned to Schenley Plaza, where the evening resumed the somewhat festive air it had before the march. The police eventually left, and a handful of protesters pledged to march to Allegheny County Jail, where some students from the previous day's events are still being held
Not surprisingly, several demonstrators had been involved in the previous days' altercations with police. They had several theories about what took place, but my wife just yelled at me for typing so late at night. So for now, I'll just say this: One problem is that the G-20 security strategy -- police showing up in overwhelming numbers, with lots of scary equipment -- may have backfired here. Instead of intimidating people into going home, it drew out the curious ... who ended up being caught in the ensuing chaos.
I love Mel Packer!