Friday, June 5, 2009
Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo of Pittsburgh says, like many Pittsburghers, he is both “excited and concerned” by the announcement that the G20 summit is coming to the city in September. Ferlo says he is “excited” that the city will be able to show off all it has to offer as the world’s attention turns to Pittsburgh September 24th and 25th. He will even be leading a “green trolley tour” for reporters and dignitaries to highlight the region’s green development and industry efforts. The White House says Pittsburgh was chosen partially because of its ability to weather the current economic downturn and its history of bouncing back from the crippling of the steel industry. Ferlo is “concerned” that protesters will not be allowed to exercise their right to free speech. Ferlo is not a fan of the members of the G20. He harkens back to a line in the Arlo Guthrie tune “Pretty Boy Floyd” which includes the line, “Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen.” Ferlo says the members of the G20 are the later. The Senator says there is a long list of reasons why people will want to protest outside the gathering and he says, “This is not exactly a group that is enamored to the quality of life of working people and those around the world who are disenfranchised.” Ferlo has contacted the city to ask that the protesters be allowed to be near the convention center rather than corralled on the northside or at station square. He has suggested that the protesters be allowed to gather on Liberty Avenue from 10th to the bussway. That would allow the secrete service to set up a secure perimeter around the convention center but allow the protesters to be close enough to be seen and heard. Ferlo says he would like to see a stage and sound system to allow the protesters to get out their messages. In the past, peaceful G20 protests have turned destructive with ralliers breaking into buildings and destroying property. Ferlo says if police respect the protesters' first amendment rights he thinks the event will remain peaceful. Ferlo says the city needs to open its arms not only to the members of the G20 but also those who have opposing views.