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Jan 24-26th Come to Pittsburgh: Disrupt the war!
by Mal Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2003 at 8:54 PM

This weekend Pittsburgh Pennsylvania is taking action against the war machine and its various manifestations. The events, occurring from January 24-26, are centered on the need to take direct action against the militarization of government policy while uniting various strands of the progressive movement with those more singularly focused on anti-war work.

http://www.organizepittsburgh.org and http://www.thomasmertoncenter.org

This weekend Pittsburgh Pennsylvania is taking action against the war machine and its various manifestations. The events, occurring from January 24-26, are centered on the need to take direct action against the militarization of government policy while uniting various strands of the progressive movement with those more singularly focused on anti-war work.

This convergence is markedly different from the anti-war events recently organized by International Answer/NION and includes a number of important planning structures that have been key to the success of building the events. The success of the event is evidenced by the certain fact that there will be more people on the streets of Pittsburgh then any point since Vietnam. The two main events have been endorsed by over 60 groups and the corporate media coverage has surpassed that of anything “protest” related in the last 30 years. The level of militant calls is also staggering for our area. We have never had any calls for organized blocs or the numbers to make them practical. On the whole we seem to now have one of the strongest most active peace movements in the country. While I am loosely associated with groups planning this event, this statement is not an official communiqué from any group – just my personal feelings regarding the anti-war effort in Pittsburgh and its importance.

What’s happening in Pittsburgh this weekend? The Thomas Merton Center and the Pittsburgh Organizing Group (POG) have spent 3 months organizing a regional convergence against war. The former is a 30 year old peace and justice center with ties to more traditional progressive forces (religious, labor, and pacifists) while the latter is a newer youth led group tied heavily to the global justice/anti-corporate movement. Neither is sectarian and both show a strong commitment to systemic change through on the ground mobilizing. POG operates on a consensus model and the TMC is non-hierarchical where possible. POG got involved in anti-war mobilizing in response to the vacuum of activity in the area combined with activists growing frustration with watered-down coalitions and domineering steering committees. Forsaking the idea that a central group is the most effective way to organize, POG organized the framework and logistics of the event, but the group left a lot of room for participants to shape the event. This has been critical to bringing other groups and collectives into the process. As is probably true in other regions Pittsburgh has a number of groups that would not be able to formally work together in any type of structured coalition. That necessitates a loose framework which groups can plug into without being tied too publicly to the organizing groups. Overall, POG attempted to organize with 5 ideas in mind: fluid
framework, diversity of tactics, direct action, community, and communication between approaches.

Fluid Framework: POG set itself up as a resource center for activists planning to attend the convergence. Utilizing contacts in the community, they acquired the spaces for workshops, music, and trainings. They also took care of a central website and time consuming outreach. This has allowed others to plug in without having to duplicate the infrastructure groundwork. While some participants were asked to attend by POG members, many more volunteered activities and ideas. At the beginning of the process POG identified the actions and events that seemed critical to putting on a successful event. These were advertised and POG went on the assumption that they would put on the events if needed. The group then reached out to others about joining the process. Slowly other groups, collectives, and individuals took over a number of the projects and responsibilities. An example of this was an anti-war teach-in scheduled for Friday. Although POG was committed to holding the event if necessary they turned over the organizing when the group Professors for Peace got involved.

Diversity of tactics: Support of DOT shouldn’t just mean you say people can take autonomous actions it should mean you allow them access to the same resources as groups utilizing less militant tactics. Having a group avowedly in support of DOT organizing the framework of events is critical. This has avoided debate about what calls to action and events would get listed. This is one of the advantages of essentially centralizing info distribution with a group that can’t be pressured through loss of funding or the complaints of coalition partners. Other groups were left with the option of not being included in the promotion of the convergence weekend or being a part of something that embraced a diversity of tactics. Direct action trainings leading up to and during the convergence address a variety of styles and tactics, ranging from militant and active blockades to permitted marches and rallies. We need to constantly remind ourselves that the tactics we use and find acceptable are not for everyone! If we censor the info that goes out there, we only slow down the pace of social change. Trainings that only talk about one type of DA, are doing a disservice to the movement by trying to put everyone in a one size, one situation box.

Direct action: It’s clear that if we are going to materially impact Government policies we must utilize diverse tactics. It is unreasonable to believe that the war-mongering leaders of the world will listen to reason. If working completely within the system could produce sufficient change we would not be living in a world self-destructing from violence and greed. While public support for Peace must be overwhelmingly visible, people willing to put themselves on the line to stop all manifestations of the war-machine must also act. They must also be given as much support, tacit or concrete, as the situation allows. The goal of Pittsburgh’s convergence, and hopefully all future events, provides a framework for all types of non-violent direct action. *POG defines violence as physical actions or threats directed against any person or animal with the exception of self-defense.

Community: One of the things most depressing to me about anti-war organizing is that we seem to have forgotten some of the best lessons of the global justice movement’s recent summit protests. All movements need positive and sustained personal interactions between participants. We need spaces like convergence centers where people can talk, mingle, have fun, and just generally come together in a community without the tactical-anonymity pressures of being in a demo or bloc. These were sorely lacking from the DC protests last week. We must strive to create at our events the type of society we envision and we must guard against our spaces and events becoming symptomatic of societal ills. We must feed people for free through Food Not Bombs and local resources. We must work to create safe spaces for communities typically targeted and made scapegoats. No multi-day event should be without workshops on Patriarchy, Gender, and other forms of oppression. Selling ideologies and things shouldn’t play a large part in our convergences, as all large protests should have a place for people to come together in a comfortable non-assaulting environment nurturing of their creativity and expression. There must be space for building our own communities while we dismantle the gears of violent systems threatening the world. Everyone must feel comfortable plugging in, avoiding ideas of vanguard groups and parties.

Communication: The “movement” does not now and never will agree on a singular approach to achieving peace or challenging illegitimate systems of power. The question is what we should do about that. The time for these types of discussions is NOT on the street, pitting activist against activist, progressive against progressive in a situation not conducive to dialogue and the reaching of shared understandings. Tactics must be respected, and the safety of all individuals must also be considered. A diversity of tactics will always be used, even if groups are acting outside of a given framework. Space must be created and respected for all practical forms of dissent. These accommodations must be communicated between groups in a dialogue. Through understanding, we will achieve effectiveness. POG has made efforts to bring together varied tactical perspectives with little in terms of tangible results, but the process must continue. There seems to be great resistance to engaging in any face to face dialogue. I’ve witnessed individuals start to question long-held assumptions, but the majority of people still see a false dichotomy of mutually exclusive actions and tactics.

To the best of my knowledge Pittsburgh has the only regional anti-war network not controlled by International Answer or NION. Whatever the result of the actual protests I am now convinced that the way these events have been organized represents the best path for future anti-war mobilizations in our area.
A couple notes on logistics:

Getting to Pittsburgh: There is a rideboard at http://www.cease.info/rides but most people I know are driving or catching rides with friends.

For those coming to Pittsburgh your first stop should be the convergence center (CC) at St. Regis Parish 3235 Parkview. It will be open 24hrs from Noon on Friday through Sunday evening. This is serving as a space for people to check in and get housing (there is over 150 beds available) if they don’t already have it, talk, disseminate information, check out tables, hang out, etc. Community of Reconciliation is the other CC and is located at 100 N. Bellefield Ave This space will be open: Friday from 10am-7pm to store stuff at (banners, placards, puppets, etc) Saturday: 10am-7pm for workshops, trainings, meetings, eating food, keeping warm, etc. Sunday: 12:30pm-2:00pm to pick stored things up for the mass march and rally. http://www.mapquest.com can provide adequate directions to both. The St Regis space is about a mile and a half from where Sundays events take place at.

Food: Food Not Bombs will be serving food throughout the convergence. Serving times will be posted at the CC’s where food should also be throughout events. If you are getting housing I know many of those generous people have offered to cook for out of towners.

Weather: It is going to be very cold! But it isn’t going to snow. The temp should be a high of 23 degrees and a low of 12 degrees for the convergence (about what it was in DC this past weekend) Please wear warm clothes. Hard to disrupt the war machine if you’re suffering hypothermia.

IMC Coverage: The Pittsburgh IMC recently joined the Global IMC network. This is the first large event they will be covering and assistance is much appreciated. The IMC has a space so call 412.681.4156 for details/location

Complete schedule of events is available at http://www.organizepittsburgh.org/war.htm or http://www.thomasmertoncenter.org

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right on!
by trebble Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2003 at 8:55 AM

awesome to hear the weekend was
organized in such a positive way
too often we end up treating each other
like shit while trying to imrpove things
in the world

up the community!

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Good Article
by pjd Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2003 at 9:56 AM

Excellent Article. Can you put reposts on IMC Global?

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Be Careful
by Joseph Friday, Jan. 24, 2003 at 7:17 AM

Congratulations on such a positive approach and good luck this weekend. Diversity of Tactics is a great thing, but there are a lot of dangers. The biggest danger is that the police and the media are not as open-minded as we are. They tend to see a protest, when they see it at all, as defined by the most "direct" elements in it. Whether this means destroying property or clashes with police, the result is that the pressure on FoxNews America disappears. This is what they want us to be like.

Right now the U.S. Peace movement is at a critical stage. They just noticed us. They need time to watch us grow, to become more threatened, to become more shamed by our use of non-violent and peaceful methods. Most of all, they have to see that the anti-war movement is broad and deep. That means not just our spectrum, from direct action over to Food not Bombs, but the countries spectrum, which includes us, on the left, the more sane members of the mainstream, and even the libertarian right. That is a broad coalistion, and the only one that can stop the war.

That is why I hope you are cautious. The whole world might be watching, and hoping, in their hearts, that they can join us. Don't give them excuses not to.

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stay the fuck home
by usa male Saturday, Jan. 25, 2003 at 3:09 AM

stay the fuck home pgh doesnt want your liltte punk asses in town bomb iraq

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