THOLOS OF ATHENA

Saturday, September 26, 2009

POLICE HIT STUDENTS WITH BATONS AND TEAR GAS ON PITTSBURGH CAMPUS

Yesterday numerous cops in heavy riot gear entered the University of Pittsburgh campus, after dark. RAW STORY, among others, has offered early reports on the heavy-handed dispersal of a peaceful protest at the university. What is clear from a host of video coverage is that the five-hundred students who were voicing their opposition, as well as passers-by and spectators, were dispersed by police in riot gear. Some were arrested, some tear gassed; and a few policemen pursued students into the foyers of their dorms.

The outdoor assembly was called to express solidarity with G-20 protesters in the city who were suffering rough treatment at the hands of police. Students reacted with disbelief to the police invasion, but did not panic, even while in a state of shock and dismay.

Accusations of anarchism were sometimes sent flying here and yonder, through the city of Pittsburgh and in mainstream media; but it is a stretch to call the G-20 protests themselves an example of anarchy. The massive looting of the US Treasury by engineered chaos of credit default swaps, overseen by the Federal Reserve, facilitated by lawmakers who abolished financial regulations, is most like anarchy; and the demonstrators who have had to wear protective clothing and helmets to lessen their chance of being seriously hurt by police, are not so much the anarchists. Besides, it is an ugly example of American journalism when pundits take the low road and describe these demonstrations in Pittsburgh as riots.

The police did proceed methodically on campus. Officers weren't out of control, for the most part; but to the astonishment of the students, the rough treatment, which resulted in bloodied heads and arrests, was completely uncalled for. The Pittsburgh Chief of Police issued a declaration that called the gathering an "unlawful assembly". Since when are peaceful demonstrations monitored by campus security overruled by city authorities?

But the atmosphere has changed during the past few years, over the rules regarding citizen rights to have peaceful demonstrations. So-called non-lethal riot projectiles, beanbags and rubber bullets are being used by cops; and hits to soft tissue, or the neck and head, sometimes result in death. It was recently revealed that the FBI wants to quadruple its electronic surveillance capacities; moreover, federalized police and a multitude of new police entities are infiltrating the most innocuous peace groups and fielding provocateurs to incite or even commit violent acts at demonstrations.

A fundamental danger to our liberties is growing in the enhanced police powers we are seeing; and these are especially visible in the increasingly harsh policing which arises more frequently, at a lower threshold of provocation. A more brutal array of crowd control weapons is also being readied to deal with unrest. The ear-splitting sonic weapon is already in use against crowds at the G-20 protests in Pittsburgh; meanwhile, some version of this device is being used by the Micheletti Junta in the Honduran capitol, targeting the Brazilian Embassy, where the ousted President Zelaya is staying under diplomatic protection, as the Golpistas with their armed goons are savaging the president's supporters on the other side of the gates.

It should be noted that right-wing "teabaggers" and the nitwits who travel (some with sidearms) to US Town Hall meetings on the insurance companies' dime--and others among them, who muscle their way into overcrowded venues and beat on the windows--miraculously don't get tear gassed or have police batons batter their skulls. You'll never see one of those ultra-conservatives taking a rubber bullet in the neck for the cause.

One of the Pittsburgh students is overheard asking a policeman about the rough stuff and the cop invasion of campus. Amid other public objections to the G-20's economic cabal, the bankers' bonanza, and the globalization agenda with its worst foot forward in Pittsburgh, students wanted to voice their objections, on their own campus, and let it be known that they didn't like the way police have been abusing demonstrators in the city. Well, on Friday night they had one hell of an object lesson, to the effect that if you protest against some things (and not others) the police in their heavy riot uniforms will give naysayers something to think about. A student is heard to ask why. He asks why and why again. But no answer was offered Friday night.

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