Three people in the midst of action during the G20 took the time to speak to me over the phone from Pittsburgh. I reported on what they said about the military and police presence and how they thought it was an overreaction---a part of a comprehensive strategy to create confusion and fear and suppress and criminalize dissent.
Each of these individuals had planned great programs that opened up conversation on a better world that isn't wholly defined by corporate, free market ideology.
Michael Leon Guerrero, organizational coordinator for the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJA) was in Pittsburgh all week working on organizing educational activities with local organizations. GGJA put together a tribunal for those who have been impacted to come and testify about the effects they have experienced from G20 policies.
Education conducted by GGJA centered around examining the root causes of the food, economic, and ecological crises facing America and the world. There has been a focus on what has happened as a result of moves to deregulate, privatize, and commodify almost everything a person needs in the world.
The tribunal allowed for domestic workers in the U.S. who don't have rights to collective bargaining under labor laws and who have really low wages to speak out. It gave voice to immigrants who have immigrated because of G20 policies especially farmers who have lost their land to corporate agriculture.
A person with the Thomas Merton Center Anti-War Committee organized a city-permitted march for people who are frustrated with the economy and all the G20-supported policies that have affected them. The Committee went door-to-door locally to educate members of the public on how G20 policies have directly led to the rise in unemployment and lack of jobs in America.
Adam Lohorto, an SDS organizer, participated in a short march to Schenley Plaza on the University of Pittsburgh campus Wednesday, September 23rd. Teach-ins followed. Around 20 to 30 students participated.
Those participating in the teach-ins set out to draft a model for a new democratic education system that would do away with the traditional grading system and the system of education that teaches students to be competitive and conditions them to become business leaders.
Lohorto told me, "The capacity for our education system to create talented and skilled youth is lacking because we haven't changed our education in years," and he thinks that proposals to have teachers facilitate the designing of courses for credit by students should be considered.
Students, Lohorto suggested, should work for each other instead of racing one another and they should be able to produce something out of their education that can be useful to society if they want to. They should be able to put together campaigns or projects that could help communities instead of just writing term papers that will be read by a professor or instructor and then discarded.
Lohorto described how there has been seven student occupations on campuses this year including UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, and NYU.
The student movement is heating up. Students are raising voices and are disillusioned.
All Obama is offering students is a lowering of loan rates, said Lohorto, and that doesn't really help students with anything so students are realizing that if they want things to be better they are going to have to stand up and fix the problems.