Patricia A. O'Malley

Social Policy & Programs Consulting

Training and Services for agencies working toward social and economic justice

“Disrupting” and “resisting” the G-20

October 1, 2009


Pittsburgh Police arrested 190 people during protests at last week’s G-20 summit.  While some of the arrests were improper and unnecessary, most were appropriate.  In fact, most of those people planned to be arrested.  Members of the Pittsburgh Organizing Group and others announced their intention to “disrupt” and “resist” the summit well in advance of the festivities.  Yep.  Talk about the audacity of hope.  

Well I have news for you, guys.  You failed.  You did not disrupt the G-20.  I spent two days inside the convention center with thousands of journalists, technicians, world leaders, politicians, diplomats, aides, and staffers.  We did not hear you.  We did not see you.  We didn’t have to drive in city traffic.  You were not even a blip on the radar.  Actually, it was a very tranquil two days. 

You did accomplish a few things, though. Because of you, thousands of city school students missed two days of their education.  Because of you, thousands of city parents had to find alternative child care arrangements for those two days.  Because of you, many Pitt students lost time in their classes, too.  Because of you, some of those Pitt students were arrested and jailed improperly.  Because of you, dozens of small businesses in the city lost income.  Because of you, many small businesses have to pay to repair damage to their properties.  Because of you, the employees of all of those businesses lost wages that they desperately need.  And you re-affirmed our low opinion of you and your exaggerated sense of your own self-importance.  Nice going.

Here’s some more news – you did not “disrupt” or “resist” the G-20.  You disrupted real people’s real lives.  You caused physical, mental, and financial harm to people who never hurt you and who simply can’t afford it.  You diverted money and other resources that were needed elsewhere.  You resisted maturity and responsibility.  You give protesting a bad name.

Yet, as all good anarchists, I’m sure you won’t hesitate to avail yourselves of all that the government has to offer: lawyers, due process, jury trials, and the rest of the Bill of Rights.  You just don’t want to be bothered with those pesky responsibilities.

I believe that the G-20 must solicit significant input from poor people and poor nations.  And then it must integrate that contribution with its policies and practices.  Many responsible adults throughout the world are working diligently to make that happen.  You are not among them.

As I’ve said before, I also firmly believe in the right and the duty to protest injustice as responsible adults.  The purpose of protest is to accomplish social change.  No significant social change has ever happened anywhere in the world without it.  Protesting is not an excuse to be a jackass.  You accomplished harm to the very people that you claim to champion.

Thanks a bunch.  Now go and tell your parents to teach you some manners.  And grow up.

While we’re on this topic, I want to send warm greetings and a sincere “Well done!” to the Thomas Merton Center,  Three Rivers Climate Convergence,  Iraq Veterans Against the War and everyone else who participated in the many responsible, productive, and peaceful protests last week.  Thank you so much.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.
- Mahatma Gandhi -

For More Information

G-20 2017: Hamburg, Germany

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Patricia A. O'Malley
Social Policy & Programs Consulting    ~    Community Matters
P.O. Box 97803    ~    Pittsburgh, PA  15227   ~    412-310-4886    ~
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Established 1993