by Lauren Angelucci
Widener University Environmental Politics and Policy Student
Over 1,000 marchers filled the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for what is said to be the BIGGEST protest and joining of activists in the city since 2009. The “peaceful yet loud” march was lead by marchers who were against continued reliance on coal and natural gas fracking. They were also seeking the clean energy development and “just economy”. As they marched down Allegheny Park, they ended their day of “action” by having a meeting with several members of PNC bank branches about fossil fuel energy development. People from all over came from different organizations and activists group protesting anything from transit cuts, to climate change issues, to tar sands development. The overall Pittsburgh meet up came to about 7,000 activists, all hoping to get their messages out there. “We just want to let them know that we have a voice in Washington, and we’re going to be heard”, said a local contributor to the march. And though there were tireless efforts for members of the elite government to notice people, one example includes one group of anti-drilling activists who were told to “make an appointment”, when asked to have a private meeting with one official. Though the day was said to be very calm and orderly, 7 arrests were made by one group who chose to step out of the norm called the Earth Quaker Action Team, and they were all charged with trespassing for refusing to exit a building when requested to.
I think that sometimes sitting down and not doing anything for something you believe in is as easy as going to the gym and sitting there, because NOTHING will happen. Many people have these very opinionated views of the world, but would never open their mouth when it mattered. And thats why the activists who put their beliefs on the line should be praised. When we learned about other sorts of grassroots movements in our class readings, such as the property rights movement and wise use movement, it goes to show that as Americans we know it is our right to stand up for what we believe in. Though often unsuccessful, these Pittsburgh activists, though all very different in opinion, all came together to use their free speech amendment. Their colorful, vibrant, and very forward signs also stood out to show the effortless time and dedication these people put into painting and getting up early and standing all day just for the hope that maybe someone would notice them and give them five minutes of their time. I think that 5 minutes of talking in exchange for 8 hours of standing is very fair. Maybe its just me and my feeling bad for these people, but I don’t know why some members of congress or government wouldn’t give these people the time of day. Many things I feel are very one sided in government and I think the people that organize and base their years around these events are the reason we have OPINIONS in America, and that is what keeps us on our toes. And though violence and stubbornness in the protesting process I think is a bit of an abuse of power, without these people and their protests and passion, it would not be America, and we should honor that.