And So Begins the G-20

Today is day 1 of 3 where I am a campus monitor for the G-20 summit (yesterday I was also a monitor, but it was for the Bill Gates speech.)  I started my first shift at 8 a.m. this morning and it proved to be interesting.

My shift starting by patrolling a building where a Board of Regents meeting was occurring.  Nothing particularly exciting happened but I did get to see the fence and barricades that has been constructed around Schenley Park in preparation for the state dinner being hosted by President Obama tomorrow evening at Phipp's Conservatory.  Campus was definitely buzzing and there were a few small groups of protesters at the intersection near my building.  There was a call over the some of the police officers CB radios reporting at group of approximately 30 protesters and also requesting back-up.  We started walking the campus and realizing that the "group of 30" was actually split into 3 smaller groups.  There was honestly nothing to be concerned about with them, but I do think that campus police are nervous that things will get out of control.

There is a tent city/shanty town that was constructed as an "art installation" which has attracted some protestors, who are led to believe that protestors are welcome to set up camp.  It has certainly become the meeting place for individuals that look like the "stereotypical" protesters.  Some are students, some are not - it's hard to tell and since it's a manageable number right now I think that the university is going to let them be.

Around 10:30 a.m. or so, a group of about 40 to 50 state troopers arrived on campus and surrounding the main administration building. 

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See the corner of the red banner in the upper left corner?  That's where I was standing when the officers arrived and lined up.  I was with a relatively high-ranking university official, and can't share details, but I will say that it's is fascinating and at the same time intimidating to see that kind of police presence on campus.  I spoke with quite a few of them over the next hour or so and they were all very kind and respectful.  I actually feel bad that they have such a boring job.

There was a student protest that was scheduled to come through campus at noon.  One of the group's leaders notified campus police that they would be coming through, and to let the police know that they had no intention of stopping on campus or causing any trouble.  They did as they claimed, although we stayed there while they went through to be an administrative presence.  The picture below is not a high quality photo, but is the actual group that went through while I was on duty.

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The roar of the helicoptors is constant.  ( Some are news helicoptors, and others are apparently police choppers.  The noise of sirens and motorcycles has already become a regular sound.  Most students are confused by the police presence and have been unabashedly photographing them.  I actually feel bad for the police, since they've basically become spectacles.

There is a definite feel of static electricity in the air, almost as if you can feel that something might happen.  I think that feeling might be created anytime there is a large police presence, but this being one of my first experiences with a political issue of such a magnitude, it's a new feeling. 

It's raining now, so I think that will dampen the protests planned for this afternoon.  Although I hate being out in the rain - and I will be out ALL day tomorrow - in many ways I hope that it will rain tomorrow as well, so that things are quieter than they are currently predicting.

I will be working until at least 8 p.m. tonight.  If there are any updates, I will let you all know!


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