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Seized Students Share Stories Surrounding Police Poundings!”

By Ramesh C.Reddy
Pittsburgh Standard

Oct 02, 2009

On the one week anniversary of the G-20 protests which were met with brutal force at the University of Pittsburgh, the campus community joined hands to share stories of the brutality faced by many Pitt students at the hands of police. Many spoke out on a chilly Thursday evening of Oct 01, 09 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. at the William Pitt Union.

Genevieve Redd, president of  the Pitt - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and sorority sister of Delta Phi Epsilon opened the floor for students and community activists to share their grievances and pain that they experienced during the G-20 uprising of the police force.

Genevieve Redd gives opening remarks before students and activists shared their stories.
Photo by Ramesh C. Reddy

"After everyone speaks we also encourage you to go to a coffee shop. Grab the five people sitting next to you if you still want to talk about stuff and get involved. Talk to other people about their experiences. Tonight is a jumping point and we want to start a process here that will lead to healing of our community. So don't be afraid to stick around and get involved.", said Redd.

Redd went on to introduce Nila Devanath, her sorority sister and current Student Government Board (SGB) member who thanked all those that attended Tuesday's SGB meeting and encouraged those at the rally to come to the meetings every Tuesday to have their concerns addressed.

"I am here to talk to you today about how you can use the Student Government Board as a means to resolve this [police brutality] conflict we are having of what happened during the G-20. On Tuesday night we heard a variety of concerns regarding the G-20 and the conduct of the police during the riots that happened on Thursday and Friday.", said Devanath

Photo by Ramesh C. Reddy

Devanath went on to express how she was told by Pitt police Chief Tim Delaney that the Pitt police were not to blame because the federal police took over the jurisdiction that resulted in the agony many students faced.

"A lot of things were misconstrued. I know the doors got locked at one point while students are trying to go in [to their dorms] but they couldn't so it looked like a mob was outside and then of course you know rubber bullets, smoke, and arrests started happening to our student body which I think is very unfair', she said".  "So, keep on fighting. Please do not stop. I know it is going to be hard because sometimes it is hard to get through the red tape of the administration, courts, and whatever it is. So keep on fighting please."

Before leaving Devnanath encouraged everyone to come to the SGB meetings that are on Tuesday at 8:45 p.m. in room 848 of the Union by saying, "Keep on voicing your concerns and we will keep fighting for you."

Voicing his concerns is just what a male student did at the rally.

"So we are here today under unique circumstances . Today marks one week since something happened in Oakland that was not right. Today marks one week of personal confusion for many, one week of student and community outrage and emotional [turmoil]. Today marks one week since many questions have gone unanswered as to what happened at Pitt last Thursday and Friday. Today we come to share our stories of what happened at Pitt.", said the student.

Hear the male student's compelling story at  G20 Speak Out I:

His experiences were echoed by students of different races, ethnicities, and gender.

According to accounts, the police attacked many students with OC vapor gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and batons as if they were criminals on a crime spree.

A distraught female student shared of her experiences with the police even though she felt it could jeopardize her case.

"Walking here today I realized anything that they do to me now cant be worse than that night. September 25, that was the night that I have ever been in so much pain for so long; that was the the first night I have ever felt completely and utterly helpless; that was the first night I saw girls cry because  they had to pee so bad; that was the first night I saw people treated like animals. We were treated like criminals but not taken seriously as criminals. Clearly we were no threat but  we were treated like one.", said the female student almost in tears.

Hear the female student's compelling story at G20 Speak Out II:

Police did not care if they injured students badly because students of both sexes got beatings from the police because of the failure to disperse. A freshman student shared how a gas bomb hit her on the head resulting in continuous bleeding and four staples to her skull. Other students shared about being knocked down or shot with rubber bullets.

A Pitt freshman student who was trying to be a Good Samaritan got flung by the police.

"When the police rushed the [Towers] patio, I thought I would be able to herd all of my fellow students inside and  follow them in so they can be inside and the police can be outside and everyone can be safe. What actually happened was that I was grabbed by the arm and flung on the patio and arrested. He threw me on the ground.", said the student.

Hear the freshman student's compelling complete story at G20 Speak Out III:

Another person shared what happened to his back, hands, and  leg after being shot multiple times by rubber bullets.

"I was shot four times with rubber bullets, not once, not twice but four times. I think once was a deterrent enough plus the smoke we have run through. All four shots are on my back. I think what happened here was excessive abuse of brutality", said the person.

Watch the video of the student's bruises at G20 Speak Out IV:

Students were not the only ones to face oppression as a Pitt senior shared about how his video camera was broken and how other media persons were abused and arrested.

Hear the complete story at G20 Speak Out V:

According to many who spoke, failing to disperse from areas did not deserve the kind of brutality the students and even some of the members of the media faced.

Activists from The Thomas Merton Center and other organizations joined the Pitt-ACLU to become a voice for the oppressed as person after person spoke.

All photos by Ramesh C. Reddy of

More coverage of the G20 protests and its aftermath will be be published throughout the week.

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Oakland International Fellowship welcomes incoming students to its worship service on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. near North Dithridge St. followed by Sunday School at 11:30 a.m. and fellowship lunch at 12:30 p.m.

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