March through Oakland peaceful, diverse

By Michael Macagnone

More than 3,000 people packed an intersection in Oakland this afternoon for a rally called The… More than 3,000 people packed an intersection in Oakland this afternoon for a rally called The People’s March to the G-20.

The peaceful march, organized by the Thomas Merton Center, went from Oakland through Downtown and then to the North Side across the Seventh Street bridge.

A variety of groups walked in the march. They included Code Pink, a women’s group for peace, a group from the Tibetan Youth Congress and the Northeast Anarchist Network, which sported black clothing and black bandanas over their faces.

The march stopped and started its way through the streets of Downtown. Most of the businesses along the march route were closed, but spectators lined the sidewalk in areas that they were allowed to in order to watch the march.

Some sections of sidewalk along Fifth Street were cordoned off and lined with police officers in riot gear. In other areas along the route, police only lined intersections, or were almost not present.

Police presence was heaviest around the cordoned area near the David Lawrence Convention Center. After the march crossed the Seventh Street Bridge, police presence thinned out.

Some of the chants shouted by the anarchist group were antagonistic, telling police officers to jump off of an overhang, but there were no violent incidents along the march.

Faith Jochum, 18, from Media, Pa., was at the Schenley Plaza demonstration last night and said today’s march had a “more friendly energy to it.”

“We’re trying to take media attention away from the G-20. That is what this is about, educating each other and the community to make this a better world,” she said.

Pitt student Ali Nabavian came out to the march after watching the news about events last night in Oakland. He thought that some of the police action towards students was unfair.

“I think there was an abuse of power somewhere there,” he said.

Nabavian thought that the march’s effect would be “minimal in the long run, but people need to have their voices heard.”

Protesters held up signs that said “There is no Planet B,” “Vote Single Payer, H.R. 676,” “G-20, Free Tibet before a free market” and dozens of others.

Anne Rashid, a Pittsburgh resident protested as a member of the Art for Peace group, a branch of the Thomas Merton Center. They were protesting for peace in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine.

“There’s a lot of media attention. Hopefully enough that it will get out into the community, not just Pittsburgh, but around the world.”

She hoped that the attention would help the individual voices be heard, rather than letting them be lost in the crowd.

The protestors held three rallies over the course of the day, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Craft Street in Oakland, the City County Building in Downtown, and East Park on the North Side. The rallies featured speakers from a variety of groups, community organizers, and performers.

John Oliver of the Daily Show also walked along part of the route. He and his cameraman drew a crowd of protesters and onlookers while filming there.