This morning I woke up to the sound of distant sirens, circling helicopters, and day #2 of the G20 Summit here in Pittsburgh. Not wanting to be out of the loop, I immediately went online to see what the newest update was. I was a little surprised that just down Forbes, a rather loud and destructive protest had occurred - check out the link for video. I went to class and then headed down Forbes to Oakland to see the destruction for myself. Carnegie Mellon's campus was back to normal with the usual slow masses of tired students wandering to class, so I kind of thought that Pitt would be the same way.
At first, it didn't seem like anything was too different down there. The Carnegie Museums had taken precautionary measures to protect itself, and I was glad that their attempts were effective since I work there. I suppose the self-described anarchists have some respect for the great works that are housed here.
However, as I got closer to Pitt's campus, I started to see some reminders of the angry clashes between protestors and police that had happened over the last 24 hours and will most likely happen again tonight.
It's not every day that I have to maneuver around SWAT teams in order to get some Chipotle for lunch (which I did and thoroughly enjoyed).
I was more than a little bothered by the destruction of many storefronts along Forbes. I know that many groups intended to target massive corporations like Starbucks, McDonald's, Subway, and banks, but I'm unsure why they decided to destroy Pamela's, which is a small Pittsburgh chain with some of the best breakfast food around (alas, nothing for vegans like me, but I can appreciate a good hot cake). I know that Shadyside, which is a nicer neighborhood with classy boutiques and mid-range chain stores took preemptive measures because they knew that people are opposed to their business ethics, but Pamela's and other small locally owned businesses were more like innocent bystanders. I think it's sad that they had to defend themselves so that protestors didn't blindly demolish their windows. I support peaceful protests, and if people think that there is a need for destruction and violence to get their points across, they should at least do so fully educated in their targets. Who will be paying to repair all of this damage? These stores and restaurants were open today, but I'm sure that they lost money and customers because of the damage. This just hurts our local economy, which is something that many of the protestors are supposedly fighting to protect.
Some businesses were smart and actually were spared. I still don't think this should have been necessary, though.
The riots are expected to continue tonight, and I know that I will be staying away from the rubber bullets and tear gas. Hopefully Pittsburgh doesn't get too damaged playing host to the world.