Wednesday, September 23, 2009

G-20: 'Green' City sends 40 cops to Landslide Community Farm (again)

Mike Boda
September 21, 2009
Pittsburgh Grassroots Examiner

G-20: 'Green' City sends 40 cops to Landslide Community Farm (again)

An important part of policing major protests is the pre-emptive raid. How this usally works is, law enforcement picks some relatively benign group or project, such as puppet makers or mobile kitchens, that they are pretty sure will not resist in any way, shape or form, and tear their space apart and declare some basic household items to be dangerous dual-use technology and start arresting people. For this reason, gun-toting tea party-types will never have to worry about this. This is the same mentality that ensures the US picks on nations that actually have working WMD programs, like North Korea or Iran. Bullies beat up on younger siblings, not their parents. It is much safer that way.

In addition to pathetic bullying that resulted in the Seeds of Peace bus being impounded and the permitted marches being denied access to their routes, the City of Pittsburgh, which is in the full throes of greenwashing the spent, burnt-out former industrial town into a success story, had 40 police officers to spare for a raid on Landslide, a local community farm located in Pittsburgh's Hill District, for the second time in less than a year.

For Immediate Release:
For more information call Claire Schoyer—412-551-6957

In Lead Up to G-20, Police Harassment at Community Farm
More than forty police officers stationed in front of Landslide Community Farm as Department of Public Works removes tires

PITTSBURGH—On Sunday, September 20 just after noon, more than 40 uniformed police officers arrived at Landslide Community Farm in four unmarked twelve-passenger vans. The police were not forthcoming with their reasons for visiting the farm but some officers indicated that their presence was in relation to the upcoming G-20 summit.

Several officers got out of their vans, walking deep into the privately owned farmland to examine the area. During the investigation police were repeatedly told that they were on private property and asked to leave, but refused to comply with the request until tax receipts indicating ownership of the land were presented. At several delicate plants were trampled in the investigation but the extent of the damage is unknown.

Eventually the police left the farmland to investigate a pile of tires on a city-owned lot adjacent to the land. The tires had been gathered from city-owned lots in the area during neighborhood clean-up days. Farm volunteers say that the lots had been neglected by local authorities for years. As part of the clean-up efforts Landslide requested help from various city agencies in removing the tires. While city officials were very helpful in securing dumpsters for other trash, they refused to assist in removing the tires.

The forty police officers remained on the scene for more than eight hours while Pittsburgh Public Works investigated the situation, examined property lines, and eventually hauled away the tires. Employees promised to return at 6:00 am the next morning. They did not comment on the purpose of their return to the Farm.

Farm volunteers expressed concern that so many police officers were called to the scene just to remove tires. “If they had given us a dumpster two years ago this wouldn’t have been an issue. This isn’t about trash or tires; this is a show of force. The police are clearly trying to intimidate anyone who opposes the G-20’s policies or anyone who looks like someone that would protest the G-20” said Claire Schoyer, a fulltime Landslide volunteer.

While Landslide members are generally opposed to the G-20 and its neoliberal policies, the farm is not hosting any protesters or protest activities. Also, in the face of likely repression, the Farm has decided to scale back activities during the summit.

This is not the first time police have been at Landslide. In August, Landslide volunteers filed a complaint with the Citizens Police Review Board when two plainclothes police officers visited the farm and aggressively told volunteers that they had to leave because they were trespassing on city land. During the August incident the officers left when they were presented with tax receipts for the land.