National Guard troops man a checkpoint into downtown Pittsburgh, ...

AFP/Saul Loeb

I have lived in police states before.  Yet although I twittered that this is what Pittsburgh feels like today, that really doesn’t begin to cover it.  The entire city has been shut down–schools are out, businesses are closed, no cars are allowed within certain areas.   People are milling throughout the streets, many of which are blocked or barricaded.  Police cars and buses mix freely with Humvees, and police dressed in riot gear march in formations, while the military watches from street corners.  There is an eerie sense of impending doom over the city.

I have not been involved in the rioting and tear gassing.  I might have been.  Kyle and I were dropped off at Carnegie Melon today to join a march.  When we walked past the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, and were so entranced by this bizarre phenomenon that we gave up on trying to figure out how to get to the march.  You couldn’t go inside though–there were riot police at every entrance.

I later learned that the march we were going to join met up with another, larger, march.  I would like to have seen it, but this rally did not have a permit, some of its participants began to throw bricks, and they were dispersed with tear gas and pepper spray.  We, meanwhile, had gone downtown and were helping out USCAN, an alliance of a large number of climate-oriented groups (such as SustainUS, for instance) which coordinate media.  We intend to return tomorrow to volunteer.

Afterwards, Kyle’s aunt, uncle, and cousin took us to see a night-time view of Pittsburgh from the cliff on the opposite side of the river.  I tell you, Pittsburgh is a beautiful, beautiful city.  I am glad to have seen it.

Right now, we are watching Grey’s Anatomy in the family room.  Afterwards is the news, in which they will be giving all the gory details of all the blood, protests, and tear gas we avoided today.  I will watch it, and will report the second half tomorrow.