G20 riots in Pittsburgh – How I organized them via Twitter

28 September 2009 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in activism, police | 23 Comments »

I am absolutely tickled to learn that I was “largely responsible for organizing the riot[s]” in Pittsburgh around the G-20 summit and related protests. From Flopping Aces, crossposted from Peter Lajoie’s blog:

Another Anarchist who was largely responsible for organizing the riot from Twitter was Mike Gogulski of A self-described, “Future stateless person,” Gogulski is an unabashed anarchist who no longer lives or works in the U.S. but has vowed to overthrow the current system of society. Through Twitter on his cellphone he was able to coordinate fellow protesters’ movements by tweeting where police officers were, where they were going, and what they were planning to do. Anyone who wanted to see these tweets just had to look at a feed entitled “#resistg20.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed possible to exhibit astounding levels of cluelessness by picking up a few scattered bits of information, and then doing your own little paint-by-numbers in between.

For Peter’s benefit, I’ll point out a few things wrong with what he wrote:

Rioting policeman assaults citizen at G20 protest in Pittsburgh. Photo by Foo Conner.

Rioting policeman assaults citizen at G20 protest in Pittsburgh. Photo by Foo Conner.

  • The “riots” were almost entirely police riots. With the exception of some property damage (reported to have been largely caused by a single person), nearly all of the violence was either committed or instigated by police. No shock here. Protest is now a national security threat.
  • I don’t have a “cellphone”. We call them “mobile phones” over here in Slovakia.
  • I wasn’t a protester.
  • I don’t do vows.
  • I’m already a stateless person.
  • I don’t know anyone who was involved in the protests.
  • If I’ve ever been to Pittsburgh, it was only because the city was en route to someplace else.

What I was doing for a large number of hours was monitoring a Pittsburgh-area police/fire/EMS radio scanner linked up to an internet audio feed, and then repeating information I heard there to Twitter. For example:

  • # (scanner) “All TAC Teams: Meet @ 5th & Oakland Ave” #resistg20 #g20 6:14 AM Sep 26th
  • # Corrected: (scanner) arrest reported at Bouquet and Forbes #g20 #resistg20 6:13 AM Sep 26th
  • # (scanner) arrest reported at (uncopy) and Forbes #g20 #resistg20 6:13 AM Sep 26th
  • # (scanner) “hammer and anvil up on tennyson … clear the tower” #g20 #resistg20 6:10 AM Sep 26th
  • # (scanner) one SWAT commander called “Oscar Mike”, code for “off air, in action for a while” #g20 #resistg20 6:08 AM Sep 26th
  • # (scanner) “Waiting for booking team for 9 people now” (loc unknown) #g20 #resistg20 6:05 AM Sep 26th
  • # (scanner) “Large crowd forming at Oakland and Forbes” “Bringing LRAD down for dispersal” #g20 #resistg20 6:01 AM Sep 26th

And so on. Some of these tweets were picked up by others on the #resistg20 hashtag and who had followed me, and repeated to others, some of whom may have been subscribing to their tweets or hashtags via their mobile, er, cell phones.

Who knows what effect any of this had. Hopefully, getting information on police movements, plans and locations out via Twitter to a few folks on the scene helped some avoid getting gassed, beaten, subjected to head-splitting sonic weapons emissions and/or arrested.

  1. 23 Responses to “G20 riots in Pittsburgh – How I organized them via Twitter”

  2. By Alistair on 28 September 2009

    Man, you’re a dick. Organizing anti-state riots while in Slovakia, as a global summit meant to help us citizens of this Earth out takes place.

  3. By Mike Gogulski on 28 September 2009

    I know… I should repent immediately and submit myself for spanking… but eh, it’s just too much fun!

  4. By Kyle Bennett on 28 September 2009


    I watched some of that Twitter traffic as it happened. Nice job.

  5. By Jeremy on 28 September 2009

    You were awesome, Mike.

  6. By Mike Gogulski on 28 September 2009

    Thanks gents, but what would be *really* awesome would be to replace the human factor in the police-scanner-to-Twitter chain with a set of very small shell scripts…

  7. By Tristan on 28 September 2009

    Unfortunately the police will respond by using encrypted communications and trunking as they do in the UK.

    They may also follow the lead in the UK of making it illegal to listen to such transmissions (and thus broadcast them over the internet) – another tool in their arsenal of suppression of dissent.

  8. By Darian on 28 September 2009

    Alistair – I’m glad you’re aware of the G20’s benefits to the world. Because of your potential, I would like to offer you a share in a large New York structure. Wikipedia, which is another example of how beneficial things are created by 20 important people making decisions for the rest of us, has some more information for you.

  9. By Mike Gogulski on 28 September 2009

    @Tristan: Frankly, I was surprised to learn that there was a clear-to-air police radio system of any sort still operating in a US city of the scale of Pittsburgh.

    Trunked radio implementations for public works have been going into place in the US for long years already. They’re still wide open, effectively, as long as crypto isn’t employed on the control channel(s).

  10. By bosunj on 29 September 2009

    What is it about getting fed up with Duhmerica and voting with one’s feet, leaving for good, that upsets Duhmerican’ts so?

    As Duhmerica is the biggest threat to the peace and dignity of the 95% of the world that is lucky not to be Duhmerican I fervently hope that Duhmerica will finally, utterly and irreversibly collapse under the weight of its considerable bullshit. Sooner the better. I believe that day is coming very soon.

    Cell phones, Duhmerican’ts!

  11. By THELANDOFSAND on 29 September 2009

    G20 Protests 2009: Military Kidnapping And Police Oppression

  12. By SurvivalTime on 29 September 2009

    One really shocking bit of radio traffic was a report late saturday night there. Apparently someone called from a LONG DISTANCE number threatening to kill a mother and daughter if $1,000 wasn’t given to him.

    I would think FOR SURE such a thing would at least get a side note in during news coverage.

    Sick it was to see that MANLY officer shoving that woman riding a bike what’s up with that?!

    I’ve got a BAD feeling about how this is just going to get worse! I’m expanding my urban survival website content to deal with this ‘police state’ and how we can protect ourselves and not be victimized by a system which is out of control.

  13. By H.Miller on 29 September 2009

    Why are those rioting policemen in riduculous star-wars gear almost allways obese?

    Are these all from the 101st Chairborne?

  14. By Nick, just Nick on 29 September 2009

    @H.Miller Have you ever been to Pittsburgh? I think at some point we were ranked second on a list of most overweight cities. We like to eat pasta, sausage, pierogies, deep fried anything, we put french fries on our sandwiches and we like to drink beer. Just generalizing. Not everyone here is a lard-ass.
    That is why the public got so upset when the local news reported that Pamela’s restaurant had been damaged. Seriously – that was one of the top stories on the local TV news. There was a small skirmish in front of the legndary Ritter’s Diner too. Had anything happened to Ritter’s, public demand for lethal force against protesters would have been overwhelming.

  15. By Shane on 29 September 2009

    LMAO @

    “Why are those rioting policemen in riduculous star-wars gear almost allways obese?”

    Ever watched Idiocracy?

  16. By babette on 29 September 2009

    Bosunj: You said it!

    The gangs of “sadistic parasites” aren’t there to protect the public, but to subjugate it.

    The pendulum always swings back though.


  17. By Winterset on 29 September 2009

    Mike, you mention that the property damage was “reported to have been largely caused by a single person”. Reported by whom, please? I’d like to start putting some of this all on my blog.

  18. By Mike Gogulski on 29 September 2009

    @Winterset: I don’t have the link any more, but I read a news report on the 26th, I believe, that said an early-20s male from California had been arrested, who admitted to something like 70% of the window-smashing that I was aware of at the time. Try a google news search?

  19. By Concerned Cop on 30 September 2009

    *******Pittsburgh Police scanner recording of G20 savage thug attack on peaceful citizens – Sept. 25 2009 11:00pm est *****

    Listen to how the Pittsburgh Police turn into Tyrannical Robot Military Thugs terrorizing citizens.

    “This is your FORCE MULTIPLIER!! GAS EM’ ”

    Download Link

    Spread this fast !

  20. By P.M.Lawrence on 30 September 2009

    This shows that some things are beginning to percolate past people’s prejudices, although (so far) the prejudices still remain.

  21. By Jim Davidson on 6 October 2009

    I think it is even better to be found tweeting the police band and doing so in a way that didn’t get you caught.

    Here’s Tom Knapp’s essay on two who did it from Pittsburgh, and were caught.

    It is getting so having fun is illegal.

  22. By Outlaw76 on 22 October 2009

    Funny thing some shill radio shows were saying the anarchists were paid provacateurs.. there were a few undercover meat heads but someone should clear the air about the disinfo that a majority of anarchists were on the payroll….

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