POG Spends Summer Turning Up the Heat on Oppression

By Marie from Pittsburgh

A mid-afternoon sun was shining, children played on the swings, and a giant black flag flew in the breeze. On July 5, approximately 85 people gathered throughout the day in Schenley Park in Pittsburgh to celebrate anarchism and American traditions of resistance.

This annual alternative July Fourth celebration is organized by Pittsburgh Organizing Group (POG) to bring together local anarchists and activists to share good conversation, tasty food, acoustic music, outdoor games, inspiring literature and collective dreams for liberation. In addition to the candy-filled cop car pinata enjoyed by folks of all ages, many of this year's attendees participated in an "Adopt an Anarchist" activity, choosing one of 20 different anarchist biographies and sharing these histories of resistance with others gathered inside the pavilion for a midday go-around.

POG spent the spring and summer of 2008 planning for protests against the Republican National Convention (the group adopted Sector 1: "Direct Against for Direct Democracy" as part of the RNC Welcoming Committee's direct action strategy - see for more) and lending solidarity to a local labor struggle. Members of United Steelworkers Local 5032 at Calgon Carbon had been locked out of their jobs since late February. The company was demanding that workers submit to drastic cuts to their family healthcare coverage and pensions before allowing them to return to work. POG members showed support at union actions and helped to put on a benefit show and picnic, raising money to help locked out workers and their families weather the work stoppage. POG members were working directly with union leaders to plan a confrontational action at the company's headquarters when the company finally offered workers a fair contract that secured workers' pension plans and family health benefits.

POG has also been working hard on internal group matters. After an early summer retreat, the group eased into a dues-paying membership structure, solidifying a treasurer role and financial management process. After an internal conflict brought out some group members' concerns about issues of respect and a desire to more strongly oppose machismo within the movement, POG re-committed to working on an anti-oppression initiative. Members held gender caucuses and male-identified members of the group created an internal Men Against Patriarchy project and have been meeting regularly. POG members are also quite excited about the upcoming launch of a quarterly Pittsburgh anarchist journal - The Steel City Revolt! - hitting the streets this October.

For more information, visit our web site or e-mail pog |AT| mutualaid |DOT| org.

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