Report back from Ohio Valley Environmental Resistance (OVER) on a recent anti-fracking action in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The Ohio Valley Environmental Resistance (OVER), a land defense group based in southwestern Pennsylvania, returned to the house of Rich Fitzgerald, the Allegheny County Executive, to confront him about his response to a letter that OVER recently sent to him, demanding that he rescind his support of fracking and the petrochemical industry. OVER held a press conference with other signatories about their letter to get Fitzgerald’s attention, and his response to the letter was lacking (to say the least).
OVER organized a house demo much like their first one earlier this year with the goal of speaking directly to Fitzgerald about his support of the deadly petro industry and calling public attention to the cause of banning fracking. The demand specifically was to get Fitzgerald to publicly rescind his support and to sign on to the letter that OVER had composed. OVER and its allies showed up with signs, banners (one saying “Sign the Letter”), a drum, sidewalk chalk, talking points, and their voices. About 20 people attended the demo. They took the street in front of Fitzgerald’s house and chanted for him to appear.
OVER had announced publicly that they were organizing the demo, so police were expected. However, there was a surprising amount of cops surrounding the small, crowd.
When Fitzgerald did not show despite chanting, about 6 attendees decided to approach his door and ring the bell, much like anyone would who wanted to speak with a neighbor. As soon as they reached the door, cop sirens wailed. An unmarked police car that was parked in front of Fitzgerald’s house flashed its lights. One police vehicle quickly came close to the crowd. Two security guards charged forward and yelled at the visitors on Fitzgerald’s porch that they had to leave the property or be arrested. The visitors complied, and the two security guards stood at the steps of the house for the remainder of the demo.
It was quite the spectacle for a small crowd of protesters, and showed just what Rich Fitzgerald thinks of people who want to meaningfully address climate change and ecological devastation. While a neighbor proclaimed that Fitzgerald was not home, OVER made sure that Fitzgerald was aware of the time, day, and place of the demo. Fitzgerald could have chosen to be present, to send one of his staff members to be present on his behalf, or to acknowledge the demo publicly in some way. Even a sticky note on the steps saying “hey, sorry I can’t be here. Let’s talk another time,” would have shown more consideration and grace than sicking cops on his deeply concerned constituents.
The writer of this report believes that it is unethical for cops to be in unmarked cars, so they would like to make the community aware of the make, model, and license plate number of the unmarked car that they saw at the demo:
Black Chevrolet Impala
License plate: JHA 0704
Please keep a lookout for this vehicle at actions in the Pittsburgh area. The cop inside of it was very pissy about anyone touching the car. Be safe!