Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I knew about the G-20 summit for months now. My mom is disturbingly obsessed with politics, so in my house, my sister and I know almost everything that is going on around us. My mom really wanted me to get a position helping out with the summit, but to her dismay, students were not allowed to be directly involved. When the date of the summit became closer and closer, tensions grew in Pittsburgh. The first thing I noticed about the summit was from the first Pitt football game I attended. As we were on the bus, I looked across the water to the mountains. On one was a gigantic sign that said "Pittsburgh Welcomes the World!" I thought to myself, wow this is going to be a great thing that the G-2o is here, it will be so amazing to experience it first hand.
It was Wednesday, the day before the summit began. Rumors started to flow around campus of their being riots downtown (not on our campus). I thought it would be cool to see, so I asked my mom if I could go see them, and she said no, because they would most likely get out of hand. Thursday rolled around, and we began getting text messages and emails from the UPitt emergency line saying to be careful that night, because things might get messy (reworded of course). It was night, and a couple of my friends went over to Shenley Plaza to check out the "riot." Another friend and I went to meet them, and all we saw was a line of police officers surrounding the plaza all the way up to the Phipps Conservatory, where the world leaders were. There were students there in a big circle. Inside the circle was a man with a drum, chanting out songs and other cheers. People were dancing, some students were getting very close to the police officers, almost taunting them. All of a sudden a huge black vehicle comes speeding behind the line of police. From the roof of the van appears a white square, none of us knew what it was.
Before we could say anything, we heard a loud voice come from the van. It said "We are declaring this riot an unlawful assembly, anyone that refuses to disperse will be forcefully moved." Three of my friends and I started running back to the towers, we did not know what was going to happen so we just wanted to get out of there. We look back because most of our friends are still back in the thick of everything, then all of a sudden we see three things shoot up into the sky like firework and crash to the ground creating a huge cloud of smoke. Now we are sprinting, students are becoming mob-like, everyone is trying to get back as fast as they could.
A couple hours go by, and we hear that a dumpster has been set on fire right outside of Joe Mama's (a popular restaurant right on Forbes Avenue). I was with five of my friends, a couple of us want to go back outside and just observe what is happening, because this is a once in lifetime chance. We stand on the steps headed towards Forbes, when once again, a pack of students start sprinting down the street because, now, police are marching down the street in a line trying to force students and protesters to disperse. Because students were being forced out of the street they started coming up the stairs, so my group of friends went to the skywalk (picture below).

The cops marched closer and closer to the students as they moved back. Without notification, the cops began throwing tear gas at the student rioters and began shooting them with rubber bullets. Then, everyone in the skywalk started to sprint away, a cop had thrown a tear gas bomb in the skywalk! We were simply observing, we were not being unlawful or loud. We found shelter in the doorway of the School of Law. We were watching what was happening out of the window. We saw students trapped on the staircase because police came from the tops and bottoms of the stairs. We were coughing because of the tear gas, and we had no way of getting back to towers because the Police had blocked off any exit.
Eventually we got back in the dorms. We went through Posvar Hall, through the quad to the side entrance of the towers. Our night was extremely scary, but exciting. I was a simple observer that got caught up in the mix of the protest. The next night we chose to stay in the dorms because there were rumors the riots for Friday were going to be much worse than that of Thursday. It was very exciting the G-20 came to Pittsburgh, however it caused a lot of problems between students and Police.

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