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Massive 'Peoples' March' Touches Oakland, Downtown, North Side

No Major Problems Reported As G-20 Demonstrators Walk Through Pittsburgh

POSTED: 11:23 am EDT September 25, 2009
UPDATED: 6:45 pm EDT September 25, 2009

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PITTSBURGH -- Thousands of people supporting various causes walked from Oakland to downtown and then to the North Side during the "Peoples' March" -- a peaceful demonstration on the final day of the Pittsburgh G-20 summit.

The Thomas Merton Center obtained city permission to hold the event on Friday afternoon, while world leaders discussed the global economic crisis at the G-20 economic summit in downtown Pittsburgh.

"We do not want violence. We do not want property damage. That's not our plan. Thomas Merton Center is an antiwar committee," protester Bill Nell said.

Police at Forbes and Craft in Oakland
Police at Forbes and Craft in Oakland

An opening rally and concert were held at noon at Fifth and Craft avenues in Oakland. Channel 4 Action News Amber Nicotra saw a large police presence but no violence as the crowd continued to grow.

Rachel Kutz-Flamenbaum carried her baby as she joined the demonstration, telling Channel 4 Action News reporter Shannon Perrine, "We need to show that we're not afraid to protest, and we need to show that democracy is important, and only by being out in the street and demonstrating can we make that clear."

Police wanted to make sure the march remained on Fifth and didn't move below to Forbes Avenue. Rows of law enforcement were about eight deep, forming a human wall near Craft.

As the march began, people walked down Fifth Avenue to Grant Street for another rally outside the City-County Building downtown. Speakers included state Sen. Jim Ferlo and representatives of the United Steelworkers and the Indigenous Environmental Network.


"Hey, hey, ho, ho, corporate welfare has to go," some chanted.

"It really breaks my heart to see so many people being misled by the current administration, the corporate bailouts. We need to stand together," said Adam Greeley, of Minnesota.

Continuing through downtown, the marchers turned around and went down Fifth across Wood Street toward the Andy Warhol Bridge. They crossed the span to the North Side for a final rally in East Park.

"We're on the right side of history," protester Ed Cloonen said. "We're against war. We're for health care. We're for jobs. What's wrong with being for that?"

Tashi Paldon, of Free Tibet, was marching for human rights. She said Tibetans "have no freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and they're just put in prison for no good reason."

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As Perrine walked in the middle of the crowd, she could see a mix of peaceful protesters and those dressed in all-black who describe themselves as anarchists.

One marcher who covered his face with a bandanna told Perrine that those who express themselves through violence are actually harmful to the causes behind a protest.

"I think it's people taking advantage of the situation," he said. "You can't go around breaking stuff. That completely goes against everything we say."

Some marchers -- like James Regar -- took a stand for the G-20, not against it.

"There are people out here in favor of them getting together about world issues, and I think worldwide, these protesters out here are outnumbered," Regar said.

Slideshow: World Leaders And G-20 Protests In Pittsburgh

Street Closures And Latest Headlines: Go to our special G-20 page

What Is The G-20?

G-20 -- the Group of 20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors -- was established in 1999 "to bring together systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy," according to its Web site, G20.org.

Countries from all over the world -- including the U.S., Canada, China, France, Germany, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Russia -- are involved in the G-20 summit.

The gathering typically attracts a variety of protestors from around the world. In April, London saw mostly peaceful protests about economic policy, the banking system and bankers' bonuses, climate change concerns and the war on terror.
Photo Slideshow: World Leaders, Protests At G-20 Summit

During the last G-20, a peaceful protest dubbed "Financial Fools' Day" was held April 1 by the Pittsburgh Organizing Group, a local anarchist group. Members and supporters gathered in Market Square before marching around downtown, stopping at several banks and government offices.

More Info: What Is G-20?

Official Web Site: PittsburghG20.org

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