Saturday, March 03, 2007

War Machine Protest in Pittsburgh Update

The Pittsburg Organizing Group has declared their planned blockade of the National Robotics Engineering Center a success.

They succeeded in closing the research facility for the day on Friday and drawing attention to military connections to the center.

They blocked various entrances to the site with people connected together with PVC pipe and duct tape. There was also a person on a 20 foot high tripod set up in front of the main entrance.
The action started around 7 AM and lasted until about noon. 13 (or 14) people were arrested for "failure to disperse, obstructiong of a public highway, and possession of instruments of a crime with criminal intent."
The "instruments of crime" were reportedly the PVC pipe that they used to bind themselves together.

There were about 20 people directly involved with the barricade plus over 100 supporters and observers.
News reports said that CMU officials told police that a few of the protesters who were on CMU property, rather than a public road, could stay of they wanted. They were not arrested.

There was a moderate amount of local news coverage but they had to compete for television attention with the funeral of that rich blonde chick. People have their priorities.

I do not know personally whether the work done at NREC is good or bad for world peace, etc. But I do appreciate the efforts of these few protestors to raise the issue and maybe cause people to ask questions about the consequences of their engineering work. Many times engineers become so enamoured with the elegance of their technology that they forget to ask for what it is to be used.

Barricade the War Machine in Pittsburgh

Planned Action

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Blogger Bob Mottram said...

This just seems silly and misguided. I visited NREC on one occasion and the stuff done there is certainly not exclusively military. Much of it is related to automating agricultural machinery and space exploration.

I'm sure the protestors will be pleased to know that they may be interrupting development of technology which will be very useful in developing countries.

1:25 PM, March 03, 2007  
Blogger Screaming Harry Armadillo said...

I can't agree more with the post. While in my own blog I try to spin a humorous slant on the engineering of robotics for killing people, it's potentially a very real problem in a time of war when everyone wants faster results with less thought about the consequences for the long term. Most people just think that killer robots are a sci-fi fantasy. I'm glad that both the NREC exists and that there are people willing to keep them accountable for what they do.

10:18 AM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this.

These people have every right to express their opinion with non-violent protest.

The PVC thing is ridiculous.

It's easy to say that a research institute "does other stuff" besides military research, but how many researchers are at all critical about what they're working on?

In my experience, none are.

6:53 PM, March 12, 2007  

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