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Dissent Plans

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The G-20 summit of international economic powers here Sept. 24-25 is attracting a huge number of protests and alternative educational events from local progressive groups to highlight issues in the economy, the environment, international conflicts and other areas that the leaders have either botched or ignored, group members say.

All but one of the groups is planning in public, pledging non-violence and seeking protest permits. That means, of course, that the one group meeting in private and calling for the G-20's disruption through unspecified, non-state-sanctioned actions is getting the most attention.  

Members of the Pittsburgh G-20 Resistance Project (resistg20.org), an umbrella for local anarchists and anti-authoritarians, will hold their "March on the G-20" beginning 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 24. Starting at Arsenal Park in Lawrenceville, the march aims "to demonstrate and build new and existing alternatives to the worldview represented by the G-20 and the direct policies it promotes, and to disrupt the summit and undermine its attempts to gain legitimacy."

The next day, the group will undertake "dozens of simultaneous actions" beginning at noon. "Individual groups" within the Resistance, says their announcement, "will choose what they do and, while we'll be unaware of what is planned, we have faith that people will act creatively and effectively ..."

The Resistance group's efforts will begin with a "community gathering" on Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. in Bloomfield's Friendship Park, offering people the chance to record their stories of how G-20 policies have affected them via the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's G-Infinity Media Project.

The Resistance campaign will end on the summit's final day, Sept. 25, with a gathering wherever any arrested compatriots are held.

The other major protest likely to end up on television screens throughout the world on the summit's final day is the "Money for Human Needs, Not War" march from Oakland to "as close as we can get to the Convention Center," says Jessica Benner of the sponsoring Anti-War Committee of Garfield's Thomas Merton Center (www.thomasmertoncenter.org/g20action.htm). Long a local protest leader, the Center has the support of numerous national organizations and will presumably have the largest participation for its event. Participants will converge on the City-County Building before arriving at the summit site by 3:30 p.m. They will start at either Fifth and Craft avenues in Oakland or the Hill District's Freedom Corner at Centre and Crawford at 1 p.m.

Three other groups hope to set up tent cities in Point State Park. The Three Rivers Climate Convergence: United for Environmental Justice (3riversconvergence.org) will hold a Sept. 20-25 "climate action camp" featuring a sustainable-living fair and workshops. According to local organizer David Meieran, the event will be a chance to "discover what communities are doing to safeguard our air, water and land, as well as learn practical stuff such as constructing a wind turbine, composting your waste and fixing your bicycle." The power industry's International Coal Conference at the Convention Center just prior to G-20 has attracted a large number of national environmental groups to both the camp and their own protests. 

The Women's Tent City plans to highlight the plight of war refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq to Palestine and conflicts in Africa through a series of workshops and talks on issues such as water rights and the psychological effects of war on children. CodePink and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom are central sponsors locally.

The third campout campaign is co-sponsored by State Sen. Jim Ferlo, who is applying to use the park's city-side section all day on Sept. 23 to highlight labor and environmental issues using "speeches and cultural entertainment," according to a letter sent recently to city officials.

Kicking off the week is the inter-religious group G-6 Billion (g6billion.org), which plans to march at 2 p.m. Sept. 20 from Downtown's Smithfield United Church of Christ to the Convention Center to hold a re-hallowing of the ground, praying to "Re-direct [leaders'] negative energy and bad policies," according to organizer Casey Capitolo. The group will also hold a 24-hour peace vigil beginning 6:30 p.m. Sept. 21 at St. Mary of the Mount Catholic Church on Mount Washington. On Sept. 23, Bread for the World will bring in national faith leaders for a G-6 Billion Poverty and Faith Summit. 

The week will also feature other educational events such as the alternative People's Summit (www.peoplessummit.com), held all day Sept. 19 and the evenings of Sept. 21 and Sept. 22, in the North Side's Hazlett Theater and undetermined Oakland sites. Speakers will include international experts on the Iraq War, corporation-centered economic globalization and other subjects relevant to the current economic situation, alongside such long-time local activists as Carl Redwood, Tim Stevens and Molly Rush.

More events are being announced weekly. A constantly updated list of G-20 activities, compiled by the activists, is available at g20media.org.

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