Pittsburgh Organizing Group

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Pittsburgh Organizing Group, often referred to as POG, was a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based anarchist organization concerned with anti-militarism, social and economic justice, labor solidarity and police brutality issues locally, nationally, and internationally. POG was formed in 2002,[1] and since then it has been responsible for the most persistent local protests against the Iraq War[2] and claims to be one of the largest radical groups in Pittsburgh.[3] The group has organized protests, pickets, vigils, direct actions, street theatre, concerts, teach-ins, conferences, and rallies. Some of its events have been overtly confrontational and disruptive. More than 122 people have been arrested at POG organized direct actions,[4] and some events have involved direct confrontation with the police.[5] POG is an affiliate group of the Northeast Anarchist Network.

The group opposes the way the American justice system works, and it chooses to settle what would normally be criminal cases without involving law enforcement.[6] However, the group does accept the use of the court system against the state in some circumstances.

Major protest actions[edit]

According to the group, its first project was organizing a trip to Washington, D.C. for the 2002 annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank. On September 1, POG held its first public event, a teach-in in preparation for the fall meetings of IMF and World Bank in Washington DC. In October, POG cosponsored a workshop to teach demonstrators nonviolent protest and civil disobedience tactics as well as methods for protecting themselves and others at protests.[7] The group's first major action was a trip to Washington, D.C. for the 2002 annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank. The group participated in a planned "People's Strike", an attempt by the Washington, D.C. Anti-Capitalist Convergence to shut down the city. The arrest of over 400 protesters in Pershing Park resulted in a class action lawsuit.[8]

In the lead-up to the war with Iraq, POG joined with the Thomas Merton Center of Pittsburgh to organize a “regional convergence against war” on January 24 to 26, 2003.[9] The convergence included three days of protests, forums, teach-ins, and civil disobedience. 2,500 people marched in a POG protest on January 25, making the event the largest anti-war protest in Pittsburgh in at least 30 years.[10]

In 2004, the group organized a black bloc in Pittsburgh to protest a visit by President George W. Bush.[11]

In April 2005, POG began a campaign to counter military recruitment in Pittsburgh when they blocked off an Army Reserve recruiting table in Carnegie Mellon University's student union for 45 minutes during the lunchtime rush.[12]

On August 20, 2005, between 30 and 50 POG demonstrators marched to protest a military recruitment center in Oakland and attempt to close it for the day.[13] Six people were arrested, a taser was used on one woman, and another was bitten by a police dog.[13][14] The events led to a controversy over the actions of demonstrators and the Pittsburgh police. This controversy led to hearings before Pittsburgh City Council, calls for a moratorium on the use of tasers at protests, criticism of police conduct by local politicians, and a police review board staffed by citizens.[15] The next week, POG organized another march at the same recruiting station to protest both the military recruitment and the alleged mistreatment of protesters by police.[16]

On January 13, 2007, POG announced that it planned to barricade the entrances to the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC).[17] On March 2, 2007, POG members blockaded the Center, a venture of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) that receives tens of millions of dollars from the Pentagon and has become a world leader in development of robotics used in warfare.[2] Protesters blocked access to the center by locking their arms together in PVC pipe, hanging suspended from poles rigged into a tripod, or locking themselves to the gate.[18][19] The protest resulted in 14 arrests.[18][20] The group claimed victory.

Another confrontation occurred between POG demonstrators and police in an April 3, 2007 POG protest outside a Marines recruiting center.[21] Protesters and unaffiliated witnesses claimed that a police officer grabbed a demonstrator by the throat.[21] The event was investigated by the city's Citizen Police Review Board.[21] The Marine recruiting center was later vandalized that night, to include smashing of windows and anti-war slogans spray painted in large letters on the building [3], though POG denied any involvement [4].

The military recruitment center protests are part of a "counter-recruitment" strategy by the group aimed at lowering the numbers of people who enlist.[22] By January 2007, the group had organized 45 protests at military recruiting stations.[22]

On August 8, 2007, POG announced plans to hold a camp-out and fast for 26 days outside the main military recruiting station in Oakland in protest of the war in Iraq.[23] POG asked the city for a permit, and received one but only for a 24 hours. The event kicked off as scheduled on September 4, 2007,[24] and on September 4, POG announced that they would continue without a permit.[25]

In September 2007, the ACLU filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the city of Pittsburgh on behalf of POG, arguing that members' rights to protest outside an Army recruiting office had been violated when they were cited for blocking a sidewalk during the protests.[26][27] The city and the group came to an agreement that protesters would occupy only certain parts of the sidewalk for the rest of September.[28] The city agreed to allow protesters to lie down on the section of the Forbes Avenue sidewalk they had occupied, and to set up chairs and sleeping bags as long as the sidewalk was not obstructed. The agreement also dropped the restraining order that the POG had filed against the Pittsburgh City Police on September 18, 2007.[29]

In the spring of 2008, POG officially became an anarchist group and brought several anarchist speakers to Pittsburgh [5] including Cindy Milstein, George Sossenko, Ashanti Alston and Wayne Price.

On July 19, 2011 POG officially disbanded[30] citing that "[they] have not been a means through which to effectively respond to the priorities individual members have often articulated is indicative of the fact we lack the common ground required to collectively organize."


  1. ^ Paula Reed Ward. February 02, 2006. ACLU files request to learn if feds are spying on local peace groups: Pentagon asked for information about surveillance. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 27, 2007.
  2. ^ a b Marty Levine. January 18, 2007. Targeting "Modern Bullet Factory," POG to Block CMU Building. Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  3. ^ Jim McKinnon. June 12, 2007. Peduto, Pittsburgh Organizing Group spar over Shadyside vandalism. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 27, 2007.
  4. ^ Lori Shontz. March 23, 2003. Protesters' Arrests end police peace. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  5. ^ Pohla Smith. August 22, 2005. Anti-war protesters fault city police: Group calls for investigation of use of stun guns, pepper spray. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  6. ^ Marty Levine. October 12, 2006. In Our Court: Activists find a novel way to deal with wrongs by one of their own. Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  7. ^ Lori Shontz. October 26, 2002. Peace groups help protesters brush up on their technique. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved on August 30, 2007.
  8. ^ Henri E. Cauvin. March 1, 2007. D.C. Settles Suit Over Protest Arrests. Washington Post. Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  9. ^ Lori Shontz. January 22, 2003. Anti-War Protesters Converging here. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  10. ^ Lori Shontz. January 26, 2003. Marchers' Message: Give Peace A Chance. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  11. ^ Joe Fahy. April 20, 2004. 6 Arrested in Bush Protest. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  12. ^ Gabrielle Banks. April 27, 2005. Protesters target U.S. Army Recruiting at CMU. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 27, 2007.
  13. ^ a b August 21, 2005. 3 arrested in anti-war protest here. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 27, 2007.
  14. ^ Jonathan D. Silver. August 23, 2005. Group says city police used excessive force. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 27, 2007.
  15. ^ Rich Lord. September 15, 2005. City Council questions police policies on use of stun guns. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 27, 2007.
  16. ^ Maria Masters. August 29, 2005. Protesters flock back to military recruiting station on Forbes Ave. The Pitt News. Retrieved August 30, 2007.
  17. ^ Marty Levine. January 18, 2007. Targeting "Modern Bullet Factory," POG to Block CMU Building. Pittsburgh City Paper.
  18. ^ a b Rob Amen. March 3, 2007. 14 Protesters Arrested at CMU Robotics Center. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  19. ^ Patrick Young. March 18, 2007. The Next Page: Hot trends in protest technology. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 27, 2007.
  20. ^ Mary Levine. May 10, 2007. Robotics center protesters deal for community service. Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  21. ^ a b c Marty Levine. April 12, 2007. Police Reaction: Picketers claim aggressive officer made protest not so peaceful. Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved August 27, 2007.
  22. ^ a b Marty Levine. January 4, 2007.War Milestone Marked by Anti-War Groups. Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  23. ^ Marty Levine. August 9, 2007. Hunger-strike planned to oppose military recruitment. Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
  24. ^ Leigh Remizowski. September 5, 2007. War protesters plan to camp on Forbes for month. PittNews. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
  25. ^ Leigh Remizowski. September 6, 2007. War protesters' permit ends. PittNews. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
  26. ^ PenLive. 2007-09-18. ACLU sues Pittsburgh on behalf of anti-war group. PennLive.com. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
  27. ^ Paula Reed Ward. 2007-09-19. Anti-war group protests treatment by Pittsburgh police. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
  28. ^ Karen Roebuck. 2007-09-19. Pittsburgh, anti-war protesters agree to get along. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
  29. ^ Leigh Remizowski. 2007-09-20. [1]. The Pitt News. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
  30. ^ Letting Go and Moving On. 2011-07-19. [2]. Steel City Revolt. Retrieved 2011-07-19.

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