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On today's show... * Pittsburgh prepares to host the G20 Summit this September 24 and 25th. We'll bring you information on the history of the G20, organizing efforts by local activists to speak out against the summit and the City's response to dissenting voices.
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Rustbelt Radio for September 14, 2009
Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots, news overlooked by the corporate media.
On today's show...
Rustbelt Radio is broadcast live from WRCT studios every other Monday at 6 PM on 88.3 FM in Pittsburgh, and the program airs again on WRCT every Tuesday morning at 9AM.
We can also be heard weekly on the following stations:
We're also available on the internet, both on WRCT's live webstream at W-R-C-T dot ORG and for download, stream or podcast from our website at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org. During the week of the G20, The Pittsburgh Independent Media Center and Rustbelt Radio will be launching the G-Infinity Media Project. Our website indypgh.org will serve as a alternative media platform for independently created audio, photos, news stories, videos and more to document the events surrounding the summit.
On this special edition of Rustbelt Radio, we first bring you a history of how the G20 formed.
The May 28th, 2009 announcement that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania would be the host site for the next G20 Summit surprised many people both in the city and across the country. Local activists sprung into action to coordinate a series of events that will voice opposition to the economic policies decided by the G20. City government began coordinating with federal authorities, including the secret service, to ensure security for the summit's attendees. Local corporate media sources have created uninformed propaganda pieces which vilify protesters and create irrational fear of those who choose to speak out against the G20. Many Pittsburgh residents have expressed concerns with traffic and the inconveniences presented by the 2 day event. Amidst all of these activities and dialogue, the origins and purpose of the G20 are often left out of the conversation.
On September 12th, the United Steelworkers hosted a teach-in on the G20 for members of the union and the general public. Patrick Young, of the USW's Strategic Campaigns Department, shared the history of how the group of 20 came to power:
You've been listening to the history of the G20 from a recent teach-in held in Pittsburgh. Stay tuned to the G-Infinity Media Project, hosted at indypgh.org, which will feature more voices from this event.
As local government officials emphasize the benefits the G20 will bring to Pittsburgh, and roll out a red-carpet welcome for their arrival, an intense battle is being waged around the right to express dissent with the policies of the G20. Many Pittsburghers do not agree with the government storyline that Pittsburgh is an example of a successful economic recovery and transition to a green economy. The Group of 20 will meet in Pittsburgh to discuss efforts to re-stimulate the economy and reform the international financial system; but there are many who wish to critique rather than celebrate the role of these actors in creating a global economic system that they view as fundamentally flawed and unjust. A wide variety of groups are planning activities to coincide with the G20 summit that range from street marches, educational forums, sustainability demonstrations, tent cities, and community gatherings. However, many of these efforts have been met with systematic repression of basic free speech and free assembly rights. Lawyer Jules Lobel with the Center for Constitutional Rights has been heavily involved in efforts to obtain permits for demonstrations:
Protesters have been sensationalized and slandered in corporate media coverage, lending false credence to government efforts to repress dissent.
Protest and violence are nearly always presented as synonymous in corporate media framing:
Many media outlets do not go beyond this preoccupation with violence to offer any coverage of the reasons protesters are dissatisfied with the current system:
Media coverage has also demonstrated an intense focus on anarchists:
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Several reports from major media outlets have claimed that anarchists or protesters were responsible for recent minor crimes such as grafitti or trespassing. However, the facts to back up these claims have been tenuous or non-existent.
Although none of these links to legal violations have been substantiated, law enforcement agencies are pursuing information about anarchists.
In another incident, FBI agents came to a local tattoo shop and asked whether anyone had come to get tattoos of the circle A, a symbol associated with anarchism. On July 15th WTAE TV Channel 4 News reported on a “break in” in the polish hill neighborhood where three Swedish band mates on tour with their Texan driver, and two Pittsburgh locals entered an unsecured vacant building. According to one of the locals, their intent was to explore and show the visitors a great view of Pittsburgh. At the wishes of the owner of the building, trespassing charges were dropped. However, a month later, WTAE offered this version of events:
No affiliation of the sightseers with G20 protests was ever substantiated. Polish Hill Civic Association Head Terry Doloughty was interviewed for the story. In an interview with the Pittsburgh City Paper, Doloughty said that WTAE chose to run a comment he made about regular street crime abatement without context to make it appear that he agreed with the G20 connection and indeed wanted us all to “be aware” of the young European threat. Doloughty is upset by the misquote and calls the channel 4 story “sensationalism”.
Beyond the law enforcement inquiries aimed at anyone with an anarchist political affiliation, some specific local activists and organizations that are planning activities around the G20 have been targets of law enforcement surveillance. Rustbelt Radio spoke with Alex, a member of the Pittsburgh G20 Resistance Project’s local outreach group. He described the group’s work:
The local outreach group attracted some uninvited company on its first door-to-door effort about two months ago:
More recently there was another surveillance incident:
The law enforcement presence in Pittsburgh during the summit itself will be massive, with thousands of police from all around the Northeast and two thousand national guard troops. Tactics employed by police at summit protests over the last two decades have progressively escalated in violence, including tear gas, beatings, advanced riot gear, and tazers.
Rustbelt Radio asked several long-time activists to put the situation in perspective:
Naomi, who is now working with the Three Rivers Climate Convergence and also participated in the protests of the 2004 Free Trade Association of the Americans Meeting in Miami, Florida:
Alex offers his perspective on why we are seeing civilian authorities adopt tactics used by the military in combat situations.
Despite the constraints of police and FBI harassment, impending military occupation, and inaccurate, sensationalized media coverage, many local and national groups are pressing forward to find ways to express their vision of a more just and sustainable world than the policies of the G20 have brought us to date. Rustbelt Radio will spend the rest of the hour previewing some of these efforts.
You are listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news overlooked by the corporate media. We continue with our special episode on the 2009 G20 Summit which will be hosted in Pittsburgh later this month.
While ordinary citizens are not allowed in to hear the dialogues of the G20, Pittsburgh residents and people from across the country will have the opportunity to take part in the People's Summit, which states it is neccessary to have (quote) "An informed dialogue about the economic, social, and political problems facing the world, including the role and future of the G-20"
Paul LeBlanc is a spokesman from the event the People’s Summit. He spoke to Rustbelt Radio to give our listeners a preview of this educational forum.
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The sponsors of the People’s Summit are a diverse group of organizations from the Pittsburgh region.
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LeBlanc believes that the G20 actually does represent a shift for the better compared to the original meetings of the so-called “great nations.” He says protests and demonstrations have played an important role in this change.
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Like the G20 itself, LeBlanc believes the news media has been forced to represent a wider range of views because of activists and groups that are speaking out about the summit.
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Ultimately LeBlanc feels the impact on the Pittsburgh region will be educational.
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That was Paul LeBlanc of the People’s Summit. The People’s Summit will take place Saturday, September 19th through Tuesday September 22nd at various locations in the city. For more information go to www. peoples summit. com.
Code Pink, a grassroots peace and social justice organization begun by women, was started in response to the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq in 2003. Their mission is to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop new wars, and redirect resources into healthcare, education, and green jobs. The words “Code Pink” are a play on the code red, orange and yellow alerts for terrorist threats used by the government's office of Homeland Security. The women and men of Code Pink use humor and non-violent action to raise awareness of the consequences of war and violence for people worldwide.
Code Pink is protesting in Pittsburgh this September against the actions of countries represented in the G20, including the United States, who profit from a war economy, and who, by funding wars across the globe, cause the displacement of refugees in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gaza. According to the UN Refugee Agency, there were 42 million forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of 2008, including over 15 million refugees and 26 million internally displaced people.
Rustbelt Radio spoke with Francine Porter of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Code Pink about their plans:
The Women's Tent City will be comprised of two large tents where Code Pink will educate about the pain and suffering of refugees and hold workshops about refugee issues. The encampment will also include smaller tents hosted by organizations that endorse Code Pink, who will engage participants and visitors about ending war and occupations around the world. The theme for the Women's Tent City is “Real People, Real Needs”.
Again, Francine Porter:
City permits pending, Code Pink hopes to hold the Women's Tent City on Sunday September 20th through Tuesday September 22nd in Point State Park. Code Pink would like to be in the park during the actual summit on Thursday and Friday. Porter sees the difficulties securing a permit for those dates as a violation of First Amendment free speech rights:
You can find out more about Code Pink and the Women's Tent City in Pittsburgh at www.codepinkalert.org/pittsburgh
Rustbelt Radio spoke with Sharon Black about the Bail out the People Movement and the March for Jobs.
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Black explained how she sees the G20 as being connected to last year’s corporate bailout and to the issue of unemployment.
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We asked Black how she sees jobs being created for the unemployed and those who have been laid off.
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During the March for Jobs, Black believes those most affected by the economic crisis will have a chance to be heard.
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That was Sharon Black from the Bail out the People movement. The March for Jobs will take place at 2pm on Sunday September 20th it will start at Soho and Wiley in front of the Monumental Baptist Church in the Hill District. Participants will march to Freedom Corner.
People's Voices, is a project organizing five educational events between Wednesday, Sept. 23 and Friday, Sept. 25. These events will discuss the effects of corporate globalization and the policies of the G20. The events include discussion circles, a people's tribunal, a panel with leaders from Latin America, and an exchange with G20 representatives from the Global South.
Robin Alexander, Director of International Affairs for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America explains the ideas behind the project:
On Friday September 25th, the group will host political leaders from Latin America at the University of Pittsburgh. At this event, labor, indigenous and environmental organizations from Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Peru and Bolivia will criticize G-20 policies and offer alternative models of development. Speakers include Benedicto Martinez Orozco, Alberto Arroyo, Miriam Miranda, Enrique Daza, and other Latin American leaders.
Robin Alexander has more:
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That was Robin Alexander speaking about People's Voices which will take place at locations across the city from Wednesday September 23-Friday the 25th. For more information go to www.pittsburgh united.org/g20
During the week of the G20, there will be events hosted from the 19th through the 25th of September. Just a few of these were highlighted on today's show. To find information about all of the events, you can go to:
Rustbelt Radio will be launching the G Infinity Media Project on Wednesday September 16th. During the lead up to the G20 we will host grassroots media pieces that cover issues related to the G20 from a people's perspective. Your input is needed! To share your own content, go to indypgh.org and tune in to our live webstream to hear voices from the events and protests surrounding the G20.
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Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WPTS Pittsburgh, WNJR Washington, and WIUP Indiana.
Our hosts this week are Danny P and Shawn Watson with contributions from Carlin Christy, Jessica McPherson, Seth Bearden, Madi, Kara Holsopple, Juliana Stricklen, and Ellen Pierson. This week's show was produced by Phill Cresswell. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.
You can get involved with Rustbelt Radio! To contact us, or to send us your comments, email RADIO at I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot ORG. All of our shows are available for download or podcast on our website at RADIO dot INDY-P-G-H dot ORG and this show can be heard again Tuesday morning on WRCT at 9 AM after Democracy Now!
Tune in next week at this time for another edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.