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Gathering Steam

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Meanwhile, CrimethInc, a national gathering of up to 200 anarchists, spent a recent week in the East End without Pittsburgh noticing.

And even they chose not to spend much time talking about G-20, participants said.

Asked whether the July 20-26 gathering in a rented, unfinished building in the 5000 block of Penn Avenue had resulted in anything untoward, Pittsburgh Police had no comment by press time.

Eric Morton of Uptown was attending his first CrimethInc convergence, the annual event named for the "thoughtcrime" of doubting the state's wisdom in George Orwell's 1984. "It was definitely a chance for people in Pittsburgh to meet with folks across the country who have either done organizing of resistance to similar events [to G-20] or who are planning to be present at the resistance to G-20," said Morton.

"But CrimethInc is not organizing any G-20 protests," said Mike Ludwig, the informal group's media liaison, from Athens, Ohio. Media were not allowed into the convergence building. "What people are working on in there are solutions to the world's problems that cannot be decided from the top down. What's happening in that space is skill-sharing and workshops and discussions to build a better world than is provided by global capitalism."

Workshop topics included everything from polyamory to community organizing in small towns and getting free software onto your computer --"just useful skills, DIY stuff," Ludwig explains. "There's a lot of emphasis on doing things yourself instead of supporting a large corporation."

The group also offered free food, lodging and child care. There was also an acupuncturist and herbalist on site to provide first aid for cuts and headaches.

A booklet for participants explained that organizers had hoped to buy a building "to create permanent infrastructure that could empower radical activities in Pittsburgh," but had put that plan on hold.

Police cruised by repeatedly, participants said. Because of G-20, the booklet said, "... we expect increased state harassment ..." But participants were also discouraged from breaking the law.

"The most important thing for us to be doing," the booklet concluded, "is not secretively carrying out military strikes against the State, but generalizing what ideas, skills, and momentum we can. To that end, we desperately need public participatory activities offering points of entry for new people and opportunities for existing groups to connect." 

"In recent times," said Eric Morton, "you can see it's getting to the point where people can go to jail for having ideas that are dangerous to the existing order." CrimethInc, he said, was about formulating new ideas for "a world where we are living for ourselves and trying to realize our desires as a community."

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