Action in Pittsburgh a Success
by josh klein
Friday, Mar. 02, 2007 at 11:34 AM
Today's action to shut down Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center is a success. About ten folks went down from Cleveland.
Today was to be another day of engineering as usual at CMU's National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) developing robotic vehicles and weapons delivery systems for the U.S. Army and Marines. Since NREC receives most of its funding from the Pentagon, anti-war and peace activists in Pittsburgh decided that it was time to pay them a visit.
At about 5 am Friday March 2, twenty people locked themselves to each other and/or the gate at NREC. These protesters meant to hold their ground. Using pvc piping, chicken wire, U-locks and chains, activists linked themselves together in front of two entrances to NREC.
At the east gate, 14 protesters attached themselves together by locking their wrists inside of pvc pipe with chains and padlocks.
At the west gate, 6 people locked to each other and the main entrance gate of NREC. And for added effect, a tripod was erected in the drive leading up to the gate. A woman named Deanna was perched up in the tripod and said that it was her intention to do good, have fun and stop the war. When asked why she was the one up there, she said, "I was hyped about the tactic because of its effectiveness." Deanna also found the element of surprise/bewilderment quite good.
Pittsburgh Paramedic and Rescue showed up around 7 am and began trying to figure out what to do. At 7:35 am, a banner was dropped, from the 40th Street Bridge nearest the west gate, declaring "Shut Down the War Machine, Stop NREC".
The riot cops finally showed up at 7:55 am, apparently once the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire and Rescue squad figured out how to extract the protesters from their lockboxes.
Although this did not go all smoothly. At approximately 8:12, a protester was heard screaming, "Stop, you're hurting me!" while riot cops and rescue squad began the task of cutting through the lockboxes.
At 8:20, a marching band showed up, playing such favorites as Twisted Sister's "We're not gonna take it", the theme from Star Wars and other tunes. Definitely a spirited addition to the relatively small march contingent of about 35 protesters who marched about a mile from Friendship Park.
The first successful removal of a lockbox occurred around 8:30 and then it took about another hour and a half to remove the final dozen lockdowns.
By 11 am, the east gate was cleared and it was announced that Carnegie Mellon University had officially closed the National Robotics Engineering Center for the day.
It seemed that a good number of participants, both those locked down and those in the march, had the goal of media exposure and neighborhood awareness as to what goes on in their backyard. With nearly every major media outlet in town covering this action, the goal of media coverage was accomplished. The other goal was partly realized well before the action through a neighborhood information sharing. Activists circulated information about NREC around the area weeks in advance.
By noon, everyone was packed up and on their respective ways.
14 out of 24 possible arrests ain't bad. Jail solidarity is next. More on that later. Photos too.
For more info, go to http://www.organizepittsburgh.org
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