Friday, September 25, 2009

Pepper-Gassed in Pittsburgh

A Reuters reporter, Michelle Nichols, tells her story:

I got my second dose of G20 pepper gas right outside my hotel.

After a long day following protesters and reporting on their clashes with police, I was exhausted. But just as I switched off the light in my hotel room I could hear the tell-tale sound of a Long Range Acoustic Device.

The police had been using the LRAD’s high-pitched, piercing noise (along with “beanbag” projectiles and the good old-fashioned baton) all day. Sure enough, when I looked out the window I saw a few protesters had come to me for once, and were moving from Pitt University toward our hotel on Forbes Ave.

It was after midnight but I still went downstairs to check it out. I passed very few people on the street and a saw a couple of hundred students looking down from their dorm balcony, taking pictures. I wouldn’t describe them as protesters — it was just where they lived.

I moved into the side street and waited for a line of riot police to move on so I could check out reports that business windows has been smashed.

The police moved forward and the two on the end of the line turned towards me. One nudged the other who then sprayed pepper spray directly at me. When I started to run he threw a larger canister of pepper gas in my direction.

The Secret Service, which is coordinating security in Pittsburgh during the summit has taken exception to descriptions of the gas as “tear gas.” Instead they said “CS vapor,” which is similar to pepper spray, was used by police. I had my first unpleasant experience earlier in the day.

It gets in your eyes, nose and throat, stinging and making you cough so much you are nearly sick.

As the police passed the students on their dorm balcony they sprayed pepper gas up towards them, causing them all to run back into their dorm. Several other students told me they the police had indiscriminately sprayed them.

“We were just looking, then there were loud sirens and then it was hard to breath and I was coughing up a lung,” said Pitt student Dustin DeMeglio, 19

1 comment:

  1. Why have these protests turned violent while the Teaparty protests were relatively peaceful?