Sunday, September 27, 2009

More of Sat. Night, and Thoughts *

This should be the last video I upload of the Saturday night march protesting events over the previous two days. Again, uncensored:

I think the best way to understand this march around Oakland is as a literal "victory lap" for the embarrassment that befell the police department mostly on Friday.

The decision by Chief Nate Harper (or whomever) to declare Friday night's assembly at Schenley Plaza "unlawful" -- and the decision to break it up -- will need to be examined. The impacts of decisions to employ new riot control agents and equipment as frequently as did occur need to be questioned. That those decisions led to a situation in which multiple reporters were getting arrested and City officers were briefly standing off against University officers need to be taken into account.

It all sounds to me as though the Police were eager to bring all G20-related activity and weirdness to a conclusion on behalf of an exhausted City. That's understandable -- but transforming a harmless and contained assembly (if that's what it was) into a conflict is exactly what anarchists, if any exist, would have wanted.

That all having been said, I have not yet seen or read one thing which calls into question the professionalism, restraint and composure of individual officers. They performed as admirably as ever during a week of intense stress and confusion. No "atrocities" have been reported yet, and civil liberty and free speech didn't "die" in Pittsburgh even if one particular crowd was unwisely suppressed and dispersed on one occasion (though Thursday in Oakland is also murky). I give the rank-and-file very high marks, and I look forward to a thorough civilian revue of our new riot control procedures.

*-UPDATE: More accounts of the events are being organized: P-G, Jerome L. Sherman.


  1. I sense convergence.

    I agree that most individual officers deserve gratitude for excellent service, sometimes in trying circumstances. Some should be commended.

    The problems were, as usual, centered on the police bureau's command staff (even when the repeated misconduct of individual officers was a genuine problem, during the consent decree era, the bigger problem was superior authorities' failure to address those problem officers). Here, command officers' orders (attacking retreating students with rubber bullets) and omissions (allowing many officers to obscure identification badges for several days) appear to have been responsible for almost all of the problems.

    I, too, have heard about the "city officer vs. university officer" issue. I hope someone (are you listening, Pitt News?) provides details.

  2. "city officer vs. university officer" was talked about on the police scanner (not proud of it, but I listened for hours on Friday)
    "not yet seen or read one thing which calls into question the professionalism" the widely circulated photo of police in Oakland surrounding a kneeling protester they'd just arrested, demonstrates lack of professionalism, the fact that a large group of officers were in this 'yearbook pic', creepy.

  3. Have you seen the video where a woman on a bike is assaulted by multiple officers? Unfortunately, she doesn't resist the provocation, and instead fights back. But, ultimately it is extremely unprofessional for officers to be shoving (and hitting with a baton) and unarmed woman on a bicycle.

  4. Gloria - You're right, the photo-taking was not good. I wouldn't think that speaks as much to the qualities I wrote about, though, so much as a lack of ... sophistication? I don't know.

    Anon 10:39 - I think I'm the one person in PGH who hasn't seen the bike-throwing video. My dad's seen it (I think he may be judging the whole situation based on that one TV clip) and sympathizes with the woman. Though did they really hit her with a baton??

  5. Bram, many officers were posing for the photo, with the protester, right in plain view of other protesters, media & (I'm guessing) of at least one commanding officer - who allowed the photo session to happen. I paint all of the security forces involved in this incident as unprofessional.

  6. Tend to agree with Merton People on this after spending Sunday with young people watching Steelers. 2 of 3 daughters in attendance.

    Police overreaction.

    Kids were looking for trouble, baited cops. Reaction from cops was not well thought out.

    Think they may have been disappointed with lack of targets up to that point. Itchy trigger fingers.

    My daughter got taste of gas on a night in Oakland while standing on sidewalk as bystander a night or two before...

    I think cops should treat Irish same way on St. Patrick's day. Cops gassing Irish Cops...

  7. If I recall correctly, the photographer for the "big game hunter" trophy photo was wearing a white shirt.

    White shirt=command staff.

  8. "There will be no justice nor equality until the last King is strangled with the entrails of the last priest..."

  9. You mean "unsophisticated" in the sense that they were caught on video?

  10. I stayed entirely away from these things, so I have to comment from that distance. It is difficult to evaluate whether the police presence itself encouraged rowdy behavior, whether and when the police should have ordered the crowd to disperse or allow them to continue to congregate with the threat that if they did start wanting to cause damage there would be a lot of them to deal with. Could they have been herded into Schenley Plaza and contained (again, keeping in mind I wasn’t there) on any of the nights there were crowds in Oakland? What did ordering them to disperse entail, allowing them to break up into many smaller groups spread around Oakland, possibly causing damage?

    Still, there are too many accounts from people who were in the crowd saying they felt they had no where to disperse to. I am not sure how that should have worked, whether the police could have created lanes for the crowd to pass through or what. But arresting people because they did not want to approach lines of police or clouds of pepper spray seems unreasonable to me. Given the results, I really have to question the coordination of the police those nights in Oakland. Which points, by the way, to the commanders in the area, not the rank and file (putting me in agreement with Infinonymous).

  11. Ed - See video Matt H assembled in his space. It somewhat buttresses my impression of a several-armed sweeping wholesale dragnet from roughly Bouquet to Craig.

  12. Been around awhile!

    Waste of resources...

    ...resources already paid for.

    Police overtime figures into pension calculation...

    City should have treated Oakland uprising as they do victory over West Viagra...

    Pitt lost to NC State...

    Douse couch fires and chuckle...

    Campus life...

  13. Got to ask Mr. Heath…

    Einstein while searching for unification theory, that is to say a complete understanding of relativity
    theory (s)….ever considered 15 dimensions in calculation….

    Equations exist…(15x)

    Forces at play,



    Ed is a rascal if not a Pascal, nonetheless, a voice to be reckoned with.


  15. I agree with you about the cops' restraint, except the aforementioned bike video. That was a little over the top for my tastes. I mean, not uber-egregious like beating people while they're prone on the ground. But still. Guess he had to be a big man and show the unarmed hippie chick who was boss.

  16. archi i am sure you are making these conclusions based on your decades of law enforcement experience.

    if police allow that behavior to go unchallenged they risk losing control of the entire crowd placing themselves and the public at great harm.

  17. the officer - command staff in this photo mentioned from above was not from pittsburgh.

    neither were the officers.

    out of town cops.

  18. @Archi 5:47pm Just to pick nits, and it seems to be lost in the argument, but if she threw the bicycle, then she wasn't unarmed. She turned the bicycle into a weapon.