Pittsburgh steels for G20 protests

Activists promised an angry welcome for leaders of the G20 economies when they arrive in Pittsburgh on Thursday, with anarchist factions threatening to march on the summit venue.

“The city has bought a thousand canisters of tear gas. That is something people are concerned about, like what to do if they are gassed,” said Noah Williams, a spokesman for the Pittsburgh G20 Resistance Project. The group’s unauthorised march, called in open defiance of the authorities, could result in an explosive situation, said Michael Healey, a civil rights lawyer representing 14 environmental activists who were arrested Wednesday. “What i fear at the march is overreaction by the authorities and overreaction by some of the younger protesters. It is a toxic mix,” added Healey.

Pittsburghers gathered in a park on a split of land between two rivers for a concert and rally on Wednesday evening were optimistic the city would not be rocked by the violence that has disrupted such gatherings in the past. The most notorious occasion in North America was at the 1999 World Trade Organisation meeting in Seatle, when anarchists in a 40,000-strong crowd fought running battles with the police.

The most recent G20 summit in London also witnessed violence and British police were criticised after footage filmed during the demonstration showed an officer beating a bystander who later died.” We were all nervous about it,” said 86-year-old Jan Moravec, an environmental activist at the rally in Pittsburgh’s Point State Park. “It is all we have heard about for the past month. When we get through Friday night and we see all the world leaders heading off in their helicopters, we will heave a sigh of relief,” he added.

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