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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Thousands Hold Peaceful March at G-20 Summit

September 26, 2009

By IAN URBINA
NYT - September 26, 2009

PITTSBURGH - Several thousand demonstrators espousing and denouncing a host
of causes converged on downtown Pittsburgh on Friday, chanting, pumping up
signs and playing instruments in a peaceful and permitted march calling for
solutions to a range of problems that they attributed to the economic
policies of the world leaders at the Group of 20 meeting.

Protesters with Iraq Veterans Against the War, wearing fatigues, marched
alongside Tibetans chiming cymbals, chanting denunciations of China and
waving signs, like one that read "G20 Let's Talk Tibet." Another group,
Students for Justice in Palestine, assembled on Forbes Avenue and called for
an end to "the Israeli occupation." Others held up signs like "We Say No To
Corporate Greed," and "We say yes to human needs."

One group held aloft with bamboo poles a giant replica of a dove made of
white fabric. A marching band with a French horn, several snare drums and a
trombone played amid a sea of black, American and Palestinian flags.

The People's March, as it was called, was sponsored by the Thomas Merton
Center, a Pittsburgh peace organization. It came a day after raucous
confrontations between the police and protesters resulted in 66 arrests. At
least five people needed medical attention, and about 19 businesses
sustained broken windows or other damage.

Observers put Friday's crowd at 3,000 to 4,000. As demonstrators arrived at
the intersection of Grant Street and Forbes Avenue, speakers urged them to
fight for a broad array of social issues that they felt had been largely
ignored by leaders making global economic policy.

"We need to show the world that G-20 is not welcome in Pittsburgh," Pete
Shell, the director of the Merton center's antiwar committee, said from the
steps of the city-county building, just blocks from the David L. Lawrence
Convention Center, where the G-20 meeting was under way.

It was as close as the protesters were able to get to the meeting of world
leaders.

"The city has rolled out the red carpet for them," Mr. Shell said. "But we
need to show them that you are the ones we welcome."

Nathan Smith, 31, a wine seller from Williamsport, Pa., said he drove three
hours to attend the rally. "We need good jobs and good health care, and the
G-20 isn't helping that," said Mr. Smith, who was carrying a sign that said
"Capitalism Kills." "Their policies are undermining jobs and health care."

A member of the local chapter of Code Pink, a women's antiwar group, led a
protest against the continued presence of American troops in Afghanistan and
of Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip.

Rows of stern-faced police officers looked on from the sidewalk, keeping
close watch on a group of more than 400 self-described anarchists clad in
black.

Before long, singers from the Raging Grannies and workers from the United
Steelworkers of America took the stage to talk about the need for jobs.

After more than an hour of speeches, the crowd began to disperse, some
wondering aloud whether their messages would be heard by the G-20 leaders.

Cory Perrotte, 20, a student from Duquesne University, was optimistic that
it would be difficult for world leaders to ignore thousands in the street.

"They will listen to a certain degree," he said. "They might not necessarily
do anything."

Sean D. Hamill and Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.
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