11/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

G-20 Diary: My Friendly Neighborhood Anarchists

Organized anarchists? OK, we've heard the joke enough times. But, indeed, the anarchists in my neighborhood -- just about four straight, uphill miles from the site of the G-20 summit meeting -- have set up shop. And they have made many of us nervous.

It's not that our multiply diverse neighborhood isn't used to protesters. Just up a block from the anarchists are the pacifists at the Thomas Merton Center, which maintains a pretty good calendar and news portal of the alternative G-20 events. Somebody has to do it.

Our local media, no surprise, tend to look at my newer neighbors (as of this writing, the site isn't working, for whatever reason I'd rather not speculate), who can scare people just by showing up.

The Greater Pittsburgh Anarchist Collective .... is part of the Anti-Racist Action Network: a decentralized network of militant Anti-Fascists that are dedicated to building a fun, diverse, liberated and explicitly anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-homophobic youth culture. ....

We are students, workers, un-employed workers, immigrants, ex-cons, current cons .... [who] seek to attack the things in life that limit our freedom. ....

As bombastic as their rhetoric is, in person the young newcomers are polite, even respectful and friendly. Their storefront, sandwiched between an old bicycle shop and a new art gallery, offers free food and conversation. No bogeyman. Yet.

So far, their presence is being felt mainly via the mild vandalism of street poles and bus stops with their anti-capitalist signs and slogans. Nothing worse than what any number of local rock bands, performance artists, etc. do for publicity. The next step is a public event, just down the street.

On Tuesday, September 22, Pittsburghers who are opposed to global destruction will be gathering in Friendship Park ...from 5pm to 7pm to share food, music and conversation. This is not a protest; this is a chance to directly tell our story of the world for which we're fighting.

Organizers will provide some tasty food, but bring something delicious to share if you can! Local singer/songwriters will be on-hand with tunes, and feel free to bring your own acoustic or percussive instruments if you feel musically inclined.

Small musical gatherings are nothing new, and I've seen these guys playing their instruments in the park several times, to the accompaniment of dancing dogs and kids. The problem? Anarchists are not going to even try to get a city permit for the event. Will local police, and/or their many out-of-town backups, going to play nice or get tough? Stay tuned for the next installment.