Pittsburgh officials silencing protests due to G20

On Sept. 24, Pittsburgh will open its arms to host the 2009 G20 Summit. The city will usher in delegates from 19 of the world’s largest economies, plus the European Union, to evaluate the aftermath of the G20 in London last April. As Pittsburgh welcomes stimulating economic discussion on behalf of the citizens of the world, the people of Pittsburgh are being silenced as many organized protesters have had their permits denied by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s office.

People who wish to voice their opinions on varying issues such as climate change, jobs, welfare, religion, war, and disease are facing complications as they apply for permits to protest peacefully.

The London G20 Summit brought over 20,000 protesters into the city who were able to somewhat peacefully get their messages across to the media and to government officials, although there certainly was some destruction that should not have occurred.

The summit is a chance for Steeler Country to show the world that there is more to Pittsburghers than rioting after a football win. We understand the mayor’s concern for safety, but we adamantly feel that the residents of Pittsburgh shouldn’t be denied their Constitutional right to protest, especially at such an important event. Though the mayor has currently designated an area for protesters to share with a police detail in Point Park, one day of protesting is not enough when protesting ideas of such magnitude.

In order to protect the visiting officials, over 3000 officers have been designated to police the streets, yet even with the additional support, the city remains overly cautious about protecting its visitors while also silencing the voices of its people. Over 40 groups have become so frustrated from permit denials that they have organized to speak to the members of City Council before the summit.

We sincerely hope that in the face of such global disparity, Pittsburgh — and vicariously, America — does not lose its integral support of the freedoms of speech and petition.

We’d like to see what Pittsburgh citizens can do — peacefully — in the streets of this city when motivated by economic depression and unrest as opposed to a Super Bowl win.