G20 riots in Pittsburgh – How I organized them via Twitter

28 September 2009 by Mike Gogulski

I am absolutely tickled to learn that I was “largely responsible for organizing the riot[s]” in Pittsburgh around the G-20 summit and related protests. From Flopping Aces, crossposted from Peter Lajoie’s blog:

Another Anarchist who was largely responsible for organizing the riot from Twitter was Mike Gogulski of nostate.com. A self-described, “Future stateless person,” Gogulski is an unabashed anarchist who no longer lives or works in the U.S. but has vowed to overthrow the current system of society. Through Twitter on his cellphone he was able to coordinate fellow protesters’ movements by tweeting where police officers were, where they were going, and what they were planning to do. Anyone who wanted to see these tweets just had to look at a feed entitled “#resistg20.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed possible to exhibit astounding levels of cluelessness by picking up a few scattered bits of information, and then doing your own little paint-by-numbers in between.

For Peter’s benefit, I’ll point out a few things wrong with what he wrote:

Rioting policeman assaults citizen at G20 protest in Pittsburgh. Photo by Foo Conner.

Rioting policeman assaults citizen at G20 protest in Pittsburgh. Photo by Foo Conner.

  • The “riots” were almost entirely police riots. With the exception of some property damage (reported to have been largely caused by a single person), nearly all of the violence was either committed or instigated by police. No shock here. Protest is now a national security threat.
  • I don’t have a “cellphone”. We call them “mobile phones” over here in Slovakia.
  • I wasn’t a protester.
  • I don’t do vows.
  • I’m already a stateless person.
  • I don’t know anyone who was involved in the protests.
  • If I’ve ever been to Pittsburgh, it was only because the city was en route to someplace else.

What I was doing for a large number of hours was monitoring a Pittsburgh-area police/fire/EMS radio scanner linked up to an internet audio feed, and then repeating information I heard there to Twitter. For example:

  • # (scanner) “All TAC Teams: Meet @ 5th & Oakland Ave” #resistg20 #g20 6:14 AM Sep 26th
  • # Corrected: (scanner) arrest reported at Bouquet and Forbes #g20 #resistg20 6:13 AM Sep 26th
  • # (scanner) arrest reported at (uncopy) and Forbes #g20 #resistg20 6:13 AM Sep 26th
  • # (scanner) “hammer and anvil up on tennyson … clear the tower” #g20 #resistg20 6:10 AM Sep 26th
  • # (scanner) one SWAT commander called “Oscar Mike”, code for “off air, in action for a while” http://bit.ly/2h2or4 #g20 #resistg20 6:08 AM Sep 26th
  • # (scanner) “Waiting for booking team for 9 people now” (loc unknown) #g20 #resistg20 6:05 AM Sep 26th
  • # (scanner) “Large crowd forming at Oakland and Forbes” “Bringing LRAD down for dispersal” #g20 #resistg20 6:01 AM Sep 26th

And so on. Some of these tweets were picked up by others on the #resistg20 hashtag and who had followed me, and repeated to others, some of whom may have been subscribing to their tweets or hashtags via their mobile, er, cell phones.

Who knows what effect any of this had. Hopefully, getting information on police movements, plans and locations out via Twitter to a few folks on the scene helped some avoid getting gassed, beaten, subjected to head-splitting sonic weapons emissions and/or arrested.

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