Monday, September 28, 2009

Just A Thought...

They're called riot control agents.

Not unlawful assembly control agents. Not dispersal aids.

I think we should think about that, and remember that.

We have learned that anarchists are expert at organizing chaos, volatility and mistrust. Most of them probably got away with enveloping everybody else in their noxious three-day game of chicken. My interest is in doing better next time, not blaming anybody for this decision or that stratagem. I blame the anarchists for the whole thing. But we will learn from this. Everything was not "fine" in Oakland.


  1. I respect your "let bygones be bygones" approach, but I want some action and accountability.

  2. blah blah blah.

    hang the boy mayor. don't hold adults responsible for thier own behavior.

    if you and i and a few hundred of our closest friends walked down the middle of forbes avenue this thursday night at 11pm, what would happen to us ?

  3. The students didn't go into the street until forced there by the police. They were on the sidewalks, on the Towers patio, in the Quad, in the park, on the Hillman steps, in the Student Union plaza.

    People in Schenley Plaza, playing hacky sack. Others -- of the 12,000Pitt students who live on or near campus -- generally milling around Oakland on a nice fall evening. Unprecedented!

    I assume you did not attend Pitt. Ever been to Oakland?

  4. First they came for the anarchist, .... (You know the story.)

    Then they came for Bram and none were left to defend him.

  5. I think that it is important to remember that Friday night was not an isolated incident. There was a lot of damage done on Thursday night. It doesn't provide an excuse, but it provides context.

  6. "Whose Streets? Our Streets!" Works for protesting and double-parking.

  7. Very good Mark R. I don't get why Bram has set himself up as chief law enforcement apologist. Not sure what he's expecting to gain.

  8. I think it is important to remember that the students were told via a mass text message not to go there. What did they do?

    Then they were told (multiple times) to leave the area. What did they do?

    It WAS a game of chicken.

  9. Police:You must disperse.
    Students: LOL
    Police:Your must disperse.
    Students: FU
    Police: You must disperse or you will be arrested
    Students: LOL FU
    Police: OK....
    Students: OMG! OMG! WTF?

  10. Confused as to how several groups can march from Oakland and other East End neighborhoods, meet at Arsenal Park and begin a larger march towards downtown without incident?

    Why didn't the glass breaking occur at the onset of the march out of Arsenal?

    What could have sent the marchers into a fury? And if their sinister intentions were known by the police, why were the marchers allowed to retreat and retrace the path they traveled earlier in the day?

  11. From Tuesday's Trib:

    "There are some kids who truly were just trying to get to another dorm and walked right into the middle of this and found themselves arrested," Pitt police Chief Tim Delaney said. "If they can prove they're innocent, I'll help them out, and the charges will be dismissed."

    Memo to Chief Delaney ... It's "innocent until proven guilty". You know, presumption of innocence, the U.S. Constitution, 5th, 6th and 14th amendments. And all that. Like they used to teach in school. In other words, it's up to you to prove their guilt, not the other way around.

    Maybe we've pinpointed a problem here: the police chief doesn't know the law.

  12. I have a hard time beleiving Sadie Gurman was being unlawful.

    I also think there's a town / gown issue. Why was Pgh Police even there as opposed to campus security? The g20 was over and done with. Where was the chancelor? Suppose you replace the term 'anarchist' with 'faternity brother' or 'panther fan'. The University would demand jurisdiction and control of the public relations message.

  13. Memo to Anon at 10:17:

    Saying charges will be dropped if there if evidence of innocence is not the same as saying you are guilty until proven innocent unless you are suggesting that the rest of them aren't getting a trial. And there is a great deal of ground between "reasonable evidence for an arrest" and "evidence needed for a conviction". And, the police can make a mistake without violating the Constitution.

  14. My mother used to say, "If you are around people who find trouble, trouble will find you." Apparently the Pitt students - so called "innocent bystanders" - did not get the same advice from their mother.

    I have zero sympathy for those arrested. I have read the accounts of students trying valiantly to get out of the plaza only to find all routes blocked. In my view, the rules were clear and the warnings were well known. Wrong place, wrong time. Thank you for playing.

    Law enforcement was present to maintain order and keep the public safe. The hurling of objects at law enforcement is not order and it endangers the safety of others. Law enforcement provided ample opportunity for the protesters to disperse, but there was little compliance with this request. So I am left with these questions:

    -What recourse, if any, is available to law enforcement when a crowd fails to disperse when asked to do so?

    -When is it appropriate to throw objects at law enforcement personnel?

    -Is there EVER an occasion for law enforcement to take proactive measures to ensure the safety of the public?

    The charges that actions by law enforcement was oppressive or somehow excessive is hyperbole and diminishes far more valid charges of excessive force.

  15. Bram, I agree with you and Anonymous 11:08: "If you are around people who find trouble, trouble will find you." Apparently the Pitt students - so called "innocent bystanders" - did not get the same advice from their mother.

    There is a time and place for marches and demonstrations - this was not it and it was clear that known "inciters" were at Pitt. The Supreme Court protects free speech but it also says that jurisdictions can decide when and where - remember when the KKK wanted to march down Hamilton Ave in Homewood . . . the court said No but you can march on Grant Street on a Saturday morning . . . and they did . . . I loved the peaceful march on Friday and the ability of those groups to get their messages out. I also enjoyed the Greenpeace banner hanging from the bridge. . . . I am frankly tired of all of the whining from people whose only aim seemed to be to get the police to react to their presence.

  16. For Anonymous 11:08 AM -

    "Proactive measures to ensure the safety of the public" = Insisting on dispersing a large but thoroughly peaceful assembly on a college campus because a few individuals who attended a similar assembly the day prior broke some windows. So, preemption.

    Do the police have that right? I think so. Was it a good call? It's clear that at least *might* have been a bad call. What's the downside of deploying the police to protect windows and only keep an *eye* on the assembly?

    "What recourse, if any, is available to law enforcement when a crowd fails to disperse when asked to do so?"

    I assume you mean riot control agents. I wonder what would have happened if they the cops simply surrounded the assembly (as they did initially), declared everybody under arrest, and offer that folks who volunteer themselves would face reduced charges, sentencing and possible dismissals, and start taking it from there.

    Instead, they caused a panic with a lot of new technology, the tactical purpose for which is somewhat unclear. If you're trying to arrest people, why use agents which cause them to run away?

    Did the police have the right to do that? Sigh, probably. Was it a good call? It doesn't look like it, and it's not a practice I want to see repeated if not absolutely necessary: like during a literally destructive or violent riot.

    Bottom line: the only message we sent to out-of-town anarchists is that we are easy marks, easily goaded into chaotic conflict, easily lured into showy moral ambiguity. They wanted to demonstrate an oppressive and arbitrary police state and we served it up. Believe me, they're celebrating Pittsburgh and are probably holding themselves up as anarchist-pimps right now. That's the message. That's also why I don't want to turn on our leaders, I just want stuff like this not to happen again.

  17. Jaylon Johnson-Floyd was "wrong place, wrong time."

    The riot incited by the police force on Thursday evening in Oakland was a direct result of the tactics employed earlier in the day at Lawrenceville.

    My momma always told me that you don't send riot police to keep the peace, you don't employ unproven methods on the general public and you learn from YOUR mistakes. If it didn't work in the Lawrenceville, why would you try it again in Oakland?

    If you knew there were insurgents among the crowd in Lawrenceville, then why didn't you capture them then, or even let them leave Arsenal park?

    If you wanted to take a dump on the constitution, then do it quietly to the "out-of-towners," and not in front every camera phone on the Pitt and CMU campus.

  18. My mother used to say, "If you are around people who find trouble, trouble will find you."

    Did she also tell you to go to a college at least as good as Pitt, and then to leave Pittsburgh to build a life in a successful region?

    If not, I sense a pattern developing -- your mother sounds like a dope.