Friday, May 29, 2009

G-20 summit, in Pittsburgh???

Alright, they just announced the G-20 for Pittsburgh, PA on September 24,25. What in the name of God are these organizers thinking? Pittsburgh is an absolute logistical nightmare for an event like this. For those unfamiliar with the G-20, it's a group of govt. insiders from the 20 most "industrialized" countries on the planet, with the exception of Pakistan, Iran and other countries we don't care for. These people get together every so often and discuss policies mostly regarding trade and world commerce.

Back to the logistical nightmare. Does anyone remember the World Trade Organization riots from Seattle in 1999. Basically, the hoodlums bashed in every store front window they could find over a 4-day period. People got tear-gassed, they called in the National Guard an imposed a citywide curfew. Nothing much got accomplished at this WTO meeting. It was generally regarded as a failure. More importantly, world leaders learned that it's not advisable to have a major gathering with worldly implications in a city with a proven track record of volatility.

Enter Pittsburgh. They're having this 2 day meeting at the David Lawrence Convention Center nestled between downtown and the Strip District. Obviously, you can't just shut down traffic entering downtown. However, you can always close a few bridges leading to the North Shore, or at the very least restrict them to foot traffic only. They shut down the Roberto Clemente bridge for Sunday ballgames at PNC and it doesn't really have a big impact. But that's on a Sunday and the G-20 summit will fall on a Thursday and Friday. Just for the record, here's the Pirates schedule. Normally, our beloved Pirates don't draw a big crowd. But these are good weather games in late September.

Wednesday, Sept. 23 against the Reds, 7:05pm
Thursday, Sept. 24 against the Reds, 12:05pm (afternoon game)
Friday, Sept. 25 against the Dodgers, 7:05pm

Why am I mentioning this? Well, I have a strong hunch the city police might try to set up protest zones on the North Shore. You could close down the 9th and 16th St. bridges and try to redirect the hoodlums across the river. Wouldn't it be crazy if the rioters go nuts on the other side of the river? They might start overturning cars near PNC Park! They'd be pissed they aren't allowed across the bridges. That Thursday afternoon game could descend into chaos if the Pittsburgh cops start launching tear gas and using water cannons. Fuck that! Take me out to the ballgame. Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack! These Pirate fans might get more than they bargained for. Hardly a relaxing day at PNC. And the Buccos will still find a way to lose.

Downtown Pittsburgh cops have a good track record, I guess. But they mostly deal with traffic issues and parking tickets, along with the occasional other mindless shit at Steelers games. But I seriously doubt they have experience dealing with dedicated hooliganism and widespread rioting.

If they try and keep the protesters in The Strip District - this could work. They've got all those parking lots right before you hit the Strip. The problem is you just can't keep these people contained in a nice little protest zone. How will you distinguish them from everybody else who works downtown? I guess the anarchy symbols and tattoo weirdos and 50 nose rings might distinguish them. Wait a minute - that's the entire Art & Culinary Institutes. Not too mention all the hipster dufuses that hang out in the Strip and downtown.

There are just too many urine laden alleys, dark crevasses, odd corner intersections,
and all the regular downtown Pittsburgh weirdos an n'at. I suspect bad things. I suspect it will start the night before with the potential for Mayor SteelerStaal calling up the National Guard. I look for lots of smashed storefront smashed windows along Penn and Liberty. The Strip District could descend into complete chaos. The arts and theater district w/ the Byham, Benedum and about 6 other venues are also in the line of fire. What can be done about this? Probably nothing.

I might get a hotel for a night or two. I'm thinking maybe the Renaissance which is in the heart of the action. I suspect they're already maxed out. But there are several other hotels in downtown. The Renaissance would provide the best vantage point though. Anybody with me?

1 comment:

MacAonghusa said...

what a nightmare. I'm already planning on working from home those two days.