G-20: Images & Observations from Downtown

This summit is allowing Channel 4 Action News reporters to see how a single event can change an entire region — visually. Case in point, my trip to downtown Pittsburgh early this afternoon.

Before the protests, before the President arrived, I parked my car on the North Shore and walked across the Rachel Carson bridge into the city. I have made this walk before, but it never looked like this.

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A strange combination: A military vehicle just a block away from the entrance to PNC Park. Our city really did have a different and strange feel.

There were fences on the roads, creating barricades which kept you out of certain portions of the city. There were military vehicles all over downtown. There were personnel dressed in fatigues. Most of all, there was a quiet where the city should be bustling during midday on a Thursday.

There were also people: more people than I expected to see. Most were not there to work. They were armed with cameras, set to capture a day unlike any other in downtown Pittsburgh. They took pictures of the barricades, the military presence and the choppers encircling the city of  Pittsburgh.

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A military presence at the 9th street bridge as you enter the city.

There were also people sitting outside Tambellini’s and Bossa Nova. Sitting in tables enjoying lunch or maybe they were employees waiting to serve someone lunch. However, the usual lunchtime crowd was nowhere to be found.

Waking back, I went across the Clemente Bridge to PNC Park. There, the Pirates and Reds had a mid-day game that drew less than 4,000. That’s a small crowd, even for the Pirates who chose to close down the upper deck. However, I think those in attendance had little problem getting to the game and parking. Frankly, the G20 city shutdown did little to affect those wanting to go the ballpark. I did see protestors at the ballpark. Abortion protestors. They were displaying those very graphic giant pictures of dead fetuses.

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Ran into city councilman Bruce Krauss ( left ) and a viewer. They were like many who came downtown Thursday: there to see what would happen.

Finally, while the march from Lawrenceville was the most demonstrative of the protests, the most effective might have been next to our broadcast location. NBC Nightly News was broadcasting from the North Shore Riverwalk, a group of protestors armed with a megaphone almost commandeered the broadcast. As soon as anchor Brian Williams went on the air, you could hear the protestors shouting “The G20 is a fraud”. The megaphone was so overwhelming, you could not hear Williams during a good part of the first few minutes.

Yes, this was a day like no other in the city of Pittsburgh. Who knows what G20 Friday will bring.

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