"We in Pittsburgh felt we had to have an emergency anti-war protest to draw attention to the new phase" of the Iraq War, says David Meieran, a member of Pittsburgh Organizing Group, reacting to April's high casualties and the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. POG led about 70 people through Oakland on May 16, wearing placards with the names of war dead from both sides of the conflict, reading their names at sites they targeted for complicity in the war: the ROTC building, used by both Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, then to the RAND Corporation, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and finally to the Marines recruiting station.
First stop, though, was the longest for the group: handing out leaflets at CMU's graduation describing the millions CMU receives from the Department of Defense for military research via its Software Engineering Institute (see City Paper News Feature, "Software for 'Soft Wars,'" April 9, 2003, www.pittsburghcitypaper.ws/prev/archives/newsarch/feature/nz03/nz040903.html) and, more recently, the Robotics Institute.
Did the grads and dads have time for POG? While there were no confrontations, Meieran says, he can only hope this large college crowd actually read what it was given. "CMU as an institution is trying to capitalize on the explosion of financial resources available for defense and military-related products," he notes, warning that student's training, and thus their job prospects, will be increasingly focused on the military as well.
The Marines surely noticed POG's presence, though no one was there to greet them this past Sunday. Reports Meieran: "We left a bunch of the placards and flowers there so they could be greeted Monday morning."