Bringing the world to Bellevue...and points north

G-20 Summit

As the eyes of the world turn toward Pittsburgh and international leaders prepare to meet in the Steel City, few will have any idea how far and wide the impact of the G-20 Summit will reach locally.

While most resources will be focused within the City of Pittsburgh, the suburban areas will not be left unaffected by the Summit and its related events.

For school children throughout the North Boroughs, the Summit is providing an opportunity to learn everything from economics to geography to statesmanship. For municipal officials, however, the darker side of the Summit must be addressed. For others, the event is providing a renewed commitment to community involvement.

Students from both Northgate and Avonworth participated this week in the student summit at Fox Chapel High School, with those not attending in person able to participate through a Web cast. Twenty students from each school joined similar groups from area high schools to recreate the discussions and concerns expected to be addressed at the real G-20 next week.

Middle and elementary school students will be working on projects and lessons that take advantage of the local impact to spark student interest.

Local police, however, are much more concerned about how the expected protesters might overflow into the suburban area immediately adjacent to the city.

Bellevue Police initially were expected to help Pittburgh Police cover the North Side if city manpower was concentrated downtown. That is no longer the plan, according to Bellevue Police Chief Matt Sentner.

Sentner said that the Bellevue Police will be free to focus on things that could happen in Bellevue itself.

Much of the local concern centers on expected protests, particularly by anarchist groups.

The G-20 Summit in London in April drew as many as 35,000 protesters, most of whom were peaceful. An estimated 5,000 anarchists, however, stormed banks in London’s financial district and became in-volved in violent clashes with police.

The anarchist groups have announced plans to protest at the Pittsburgh summit, and identified potential targets. On the list are global corporations such as McDonald’s, as well as companies that in-clude Giant Eagle, Starbucks, The Gap and Pet Land. PNC Bank features prominently on the list.

Most of the potential protest sites are located well within the core of the City of Pittsburgh, with the Rivers Casino and the Tribune Review offices on the North Side the closest to the northern suburbs.

Bellevue Police will be ready in case city protesters use Route 65 to escape apprehension, but also will be keeping an eye on local companies that could be targeted.

Sentner said that police have been informed that anarchists could focus on global corporations as well as companies that received government bail-outs, such as banks or General Motors.

Police also will concentrate on making sure the Allegheny General Hospital - Suburban Campus is secure and able to address any medical issues that arise.

Sentner said that a couple Bellevue Police officers will work 12-hour shifts next week and be assigned to handle any problems related to the G-20 Summit or the planned -- and unplanned -- protests.

Are the preparations really much ado about nothing?

“I hope so,” said Sentner, but said that information received by law enforcement agencies suggests otherwise.

“They expect the anarchists to be pretty bad,” he said. “They’re getting ready for battle.”

One local police officer will be on the front lines of any problems that occur downtown. Ohio Township Police Officer Brian Saffer is a member of the North Hills SWAT team, which will take its place along with city and Allegheny County officers in downtown Pittsburgh next Thursday and Friday.

Ohio Township Police Chief Beaver Micklos said that his department also has been working with some Neville Island companies to beef up security during the Summit in case protesters widen their perspective.

Others in the area, however, are attempting to put a positive spin on the G-20 and the world’s view of Pittsburgh and its surrounding communities. A “G-20 Summit Day of Service” will be held on Friday, Sept. 25, taking advantage of the number of people who will have a day off because their downtown work places are closed. Volunteer opportunities abound, including a number in the North Boroughs and North Hills.

North Hills Community Outreach is among the groups that will be sponsoring various volunteer efforts that day. People are needed in the Bellevue area to drive and collect food donations that will go to the local food pantry. NHCO’s Faith in Action program also is looking for people who would like to do some gardening for elderly residents. Other projects include clean-up and trail restoration projects in North Park.

To volunteer for these or other Day of Service efforts, local residents can go to www.pittsburghcares.org for information and registration forms.


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