– Arrested Protester –

Yesterday one of our blog viewers brought an interesting article to our attention:



The article starts by explaining the pivotal use of texting by protesters and law enforcement, then shifts to Elliot Madison, who was arrested and “charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possession of instruments of crime” .  His use of Twitter and mass text messages has earned him a criminal complaint of “directing others to avoid apprehension”



         GlobaliseThis copy

                               The Group of Twenty (Commonly known as the G-20) was established in 1999. Comprised of the 19th largest world economies including the EU, these leaders meet to discuss the global economy and new measures to ensure global economic stability.          
The economies of the countries represented comprise 85% of the world economy
g20                         Because of the recent economic downturn G20 meetings have been more frequent, the latest of which just took place in    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA from Sept 24th until the 25th..   Searching for an appropriate recovery plan, these leaders were met with heavy protest and opposition from many sides, many protesting the economic globalization this summit represents. (www.pittsburghsummit.gov)

                   Protesters, fighting the globalization that this summit represents, are well organized and well represented. Their presence having been anticipated, government and law enforcement officials appropriately prepared, and dramatically reacted. The planning of protests, actualization of demonstrations, and documentation of events were all filtered through various forms of new media… proving the unbelievable power, flexibility, and potential these novel media forms have to instigate social awareness.


Jolly-Old Protesters

                   In April of 2009 the G20 met in London. This summit was extensively protested.  Preparation and organization were made possible through use of new media.   Most notably, protesters, politicians, and activits all made use of twitter to organize and inform (Ward, 2009). IndyMedia had its own tags to collate information for the protests.

                  Response by police forces brought much attention to the summit… Individual documentation of both protesters and enforcement were documented and shared on independent media sites and youtube.

All in all, over 35,000 ppl rallied at the April meeting in London(Economist, 2009).

check out the archives of indymedia.org.uk reporting on the G20 summit and protests:http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/newswire/archive3600.html

                   Some organizations, like Action Aid, used their websites to blog about their intended meetings and protests. They noted that it takes more time to blog, and depends on the person accessing their website, therefore they began to primarily use twitter to reach people as fast as possible. (Ward, 2009) The use of the internet and twitter was not lost on authorities, who analyzed facebook and myspace account activity as an indication of the protests to come.



The PITTS   –    G20 September



From Sept 24-26th The G20 had its second meeting of this year.  It was held in Pittsburgh, USA to highlight growth in environmental and social policies.  Having an unemployment rate that is one of the lowest in US cities and a strong development of green architecture, Pittsburgh seemed to be a great symbolic location for the summit.  Obama hosted the other 19 leaders.  Similar to previous G20 summits, this was met with extreme opposition.  People learned from previous anti-globalisation protests, which influenced their communication methods and preparation of law enforcement. London protests to the April summit gave hints to protesters, leaders, and law enforcement alike.



New Media rocks steeltown, USA

The internet has become an incredible tool for gaining awareness, organizing masses of people. First, YOUTUBE has become instrumental in spreading messages about necessary protests to the meeting of the G20. The American Resistance Movement encouraged nationwide protests against the authorities who planned the G20. The most notable example is Jim Stachowiak’s masked appeal for revolt in his youtube video. (Prine, 2009)


Organizing and Spreading the Message



This website is probably the most wellknown and organzied. This central site promised mass marches and protests, intensifying the message, giving locations for protest,  and providing space for people to post their own information and reports. (Economist, 2009)  It also contains “calls to action”, calls for street medics, links to report police agression, and frequent updates.


                Participants are twittering locations of protests, and updates on police activity. Live feeds of the city’s police scanners have allowed protesters to track communications. Both entities are using new media to track and follow the other.

Some examples of twitter and mass-texts:

Protester texts:  “SWAT team rolling down 5th Ave.”

                                       “Report received that police are ‘nabbing’ anyone who looks like a protester/…stay alert watch your friends!”

Police text messages:  “A comms facility was raided, but we are still fully operational please continue to submit reports.” 

                                         nine hours later: “Scanner just said be advised we’re being monitored by anarchists through scanner.” (Moynihan, 2009)


          Even the governmental website, pittsburghsummit.gov, encourages twittering in order to stay connected to the events. Organizers have taken the same opportunity to use twitter to reach protesters as quickly as possible.  Facebook groups are also becoming instrumental in raising awareness and bringing people together.


Online maps on websites have detailed descriptions and sites for protest, lists of suggestions of pleaces to protest. (Urbina, 2009)


 protests_190The New York Times

Indymedia Pittsburgh has been giving updates from the street by the hour, becoming another example of independent media becoming more and more legitimized.


Split Message


The nature of the new media has led protesters of many many causes to converge for the G20 summit. Activists all over the world attribute so many of the world’s problems to the economic and social policies of these 19 countries and the EU. This has combined many different causal protests into the same arena, resulting in a hodgepodge of protests and activism.   Where sompeople carry banners reading: “Capitalism Kills” (Urbina, 2009), some have different causes and sources of protest.


                                                                 Some of the interest groups represented at the Pittsburgh 09 Summit:


Iraq Veterans Against the War

Representatives from “Free Tibet”

Students for Justice in Palestine

Code Pink

United Steelworkers of America

Myanmar activists

Philippines G-20 Protest


The fact that 20 or so individuals right now are determing economic trade policies for four to five billion people just isn’t right” – Trevor Griffith Uof W Florida (Urbina, 2009)




Governmental Anticipation

                Previous protests have given governmental and law enforcement agents a chance to anticipate masses of protesters. In an effort to avoid the 1999 WTO protests where 3 million in damage and 600 arrests, as well as the protests in London, Security officials have kept a watchful eye on new media activity. Pittsburgh prepared itself. (Urbina, 2009)

The National Guard joined the pittsburg police, adding an additional 3,000 city, state, and federal officers to their existing force, and have restricted areas of Pittsburgh, creating riot fenced areas inaccessible to pedestrians



They also freed up space in local Pittsburgh jails. After pardoning 300 prisoners incarcerated for minor violations, the city had 1,000 jail cells prepped and ready for protesters. (Urbina, 2009)






Response to protests

In response to the protests, the Police and National Guard have begun to use sound cannons, tear gas, and smoke canisters in order to dispell the protests. Many arrests and abuses have taken place


-sound cannons, tear gas canisters, smoke canister

Independent media and citizen journalism has assumed an important role in the reporting of events of the G20 Summit. Individual citizens have been documenting police action and security measures taken

IndyMedia Pittsburgh has been vital in reporting events and occurrences within the activism. People involved in the protests have been logging photos, stories, videos, and everything having to do with the activism. Independent reporters are filing articles and preparing broadcasts (Urbina, 2009)

People have also been documenting some police brutality and general abuses of protesters. Flux Rostrum, an activist and videographer has been pivotal in documenting the protests. Some say much of this documentation will be useful in future legal persuance against excessive police force.





In honor of George Stephanopoulos I bring you… THE TUESDAY FUNNY! 







Works Cited:

Moynihan, Colin. (2009, October 5). Arrest Puts Focus on Protester’s Texting. The New York Times. 

Prine, Carl. (2009, September 2). Video Released on Internet urges mass protest during G-20. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Smith, David. (2009, March 22). Office Staff Warned of Confrontation as City Braces for mass G20 Protests. The Guardian.



Urbina, Ian. (2009, September 24). For Pittsburgh, G-20 Meeting is a Mixed Blessing.http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/24/us/24pittsburgh.html?scp=2&sq=G20&st=cse

Urbina, Ian. (2009, September24). Getting out the Anti-Globalization Message. The New York Times. http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/24/getting-out-the-anti-globalization-message/

Urbina, Ian. (2009, September 25). Protesters are met by tear gas at G-20 Conference. The New York Times.  

Urbina, Ian. (2009, September 26). Thousands Hold Peaceful March at G-20 Summit. The New York Times.  

Ward, Mark. (2009, April 2). Twitter on the Front Line. BBC News.  

(2009, September 17th). Lessons for the G20. The Economist.