Pittsburgh demo

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jan 30 08:35:42 MST 2003

(from Yahoo Marxism list. btw, the www.pittsburghese.com link below does
not work.)

The antiwar demonstration in Pittsburgh today [1/26] was 5,000 strong by
POLICE estimates. That alone makes it larger than any demonstration in
this city during the Vietnam War, which probably means that it's the
largest political demonstration in this city in seventy years. I don't
know, maybe there were gatherings during the 1959 steel strike that
equalled it. But if not, you'd probably have to go back to the 1930s
when unemployed demonstrators were clubbed in Downtown's Market Square.

Anecdotally, I saw people there I certainly wasn't expecting to see. My
next-door neighbor from when I was a kid was there. He's attending the
University of Pittsburgh like I did, and when I was on-campus I would
occasionally run into him when I was doing political stuff -- and in
those cases, he just happened to be walking by. He's certainly not the
kind of guy who I'd ever pegged to participate in a demonstration, and
yet there he was. (Hell, he might even be reading this right now for all
I know.) I'd bet many people had comparable stories.

Like the large-scale demonstration in Washington last weekend, this was
not merely a gathering of the usual gaggle of fifty local progressives,
an influx of anarchist collectives, and a half-dozen paper-peddling left
sects -- though all of these were present, of course. Rather, the bulk
of the crowd was "just folks." During this march (through the
university/hospital complex of the Oakland neighborhood) and at
yesterday's smaller (perhaps 1,500) "peace parade" through the city's
South Side, the reaction of bystanders of all kinds -- including
shopkeepers who sometimes served people free coffee and once even
cranked up Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" on the sound system -- was
overwhelmingly positive, with only a very few snotty Young Republican
hecklers here and there. Big contingents of religious people and vets
attended the demo, too.

All of this, of course, on Super Bowl Sunday -- the organizers took a
real gamble that the Steelers wouldn't be in it this year, I guess. (Or
maybe it wasn't a gamble at all, given the Steelers' imprudent nixing of
the underrated Kordell Stewart. But that, of course, is another story
entirely.) Of the many creative signs, one of my favorites was the one
that said "Yinz guys are war pigs." (If you know Pittsburgh, you get
that one; if you don't, see www.pittsburghese.com)

John Lacny

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