RNC08 Report, January 8th, 2017:
Citizens Police Review Board hears more stories of abuse from the G-20
On Thursday, the Pittsburgh CPRB met at the Community of Reconciliation Church in Oakland to hear yet another series of stories about police abuses during the G-20.
The story is familiar now. The offenses are as well. Normally when around officials, the zero-calorie statement is common. Not at the CPRB, though.
“What amazes me in this country is not what we see,” said Vice-Chair Richard M. Carrington, “but what we put up with.”
As stated, the stories are all familiar. Albert Petrarcha holds that the police were positioned on Bigelow and Meyran Thursday night, deliberately permitting damage in order to better justify police presence and force during the convention.
Naomi Archer, another returning speaker, recounts one very unique detail. Archer, a veteran organizer, recognized an unnamed MIami-Dade police officer from an earlier encounter during the 2003 FTAA protest in that city. She further alleges that these police were participating in the training of local authorities. Given the nature of the activities police engaged in (variously referred to as “excessive”, “insane”, and “criminal”) one can only speculate the long-term ramifications of the G-20 on Pittsburgh Police and in other areas where volunteers were sworn in. Archer did request a full list of the contractors and curriculum involved in police training for the event.
“Americans shouldn’t be forced to genuflect to royalty,” said Mark Ozark, Wilkinsburg resident and associate of the Thomas Merton Center. He referred to the G-20 and the perceived subtext of police treatment.
Officers have since been praised by government and media for their handling of dissent during the G-20.
“But the police did not escalate. They were totally silent, and they didn’t pull out their tear gas or anything like that.” These were the words of Councilman Dowd presumably before Lawrenceville (part of his own District) became the site of the first US civilian use of an LRAD and awash with OC spray.
Police have also been subject to a police probe in Chicago over the trophy photo taken by that city’s police while acting as sworn deputies of Pittsburgh Police.
Lastly, the police story itself has been called into question.
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Matt Lynas, independent journalist and CMU student, stated “Police opened fire on protesters before the Boston Market was smashed”. The incident he referred to occurred on Thursday.
Lauren Wasson, 22, self-described “pseudo celebrity” known as “Bike Girl”, pointed out that she was filmed during her encounter with police, drawing attention to those who were not so lucky. For them, she said, it is a case of their word against the authorities.
This is a grim statement for a meeting taking place after the magistral court hearings. Testimony in magistral court hinged repeatedly on the contention that there was an escape route up Forbes Avenue. It was blocked by police. Police witness Detective William Friburger testified at that time that 400-500 people were in the plaza, which was a number conflated even from his lieutenant’s testimony, giving false validity to the claim of an escape route not taken.
Facing this testimony now as part of the permanent record, the people before the CPRB make their statements of what happened and what they wish to see done about it. Do you know how many calories in an egg ?
One suggestion was that Police Chief Harper and Deputy Police Chief Donaldson should resign and those officers identified in the legion of abuse be brought up on charges.
“I am mayor of my town,” said Chuck Pascal, attorney for G-20 protesters and Mayor of Leechburg, PA, “The first rule of policing is don’t create chaos.” He went on to further state that “if my police chief did this, I would fire him.”
“We only get a full house when trouble occurs,” said Marsha Hinton of the CPRB, “The board is only as strong as the citizens who back it.”