Pittsburghers Disrupt ALEC Dinner at Heinz Hall to Stand up for Democracy

Originally posted to Three Rivers Rising Tide

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Disruption comes in advance of major rally outside ALEC Spring Task Force Summit

PITTSBURGH—Two dozen Pittsburghers stormed into the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Spring Task Force Summit meeting on Thursday evening, disrupting the lobbying group’s Board of Directors Dinner.  While ALEC’s Summit is taking place at the Omni-William Penn, the dinner was held a few blocks away at Heinz Hall.

Hoisting yellow umbrellas with anti-ALEC slogans, a common prop from the 2014 pro-democracy mobilization in Hong Kong, participants rolled out ‘crime scene’ tape and shouted, This is a crime scene! ALEC is killing us! With private prisons and attacks on workers fueled by greed and hunger for power ALEC is killing us!

During the 2014 “Umbrella Revolution” in Hong Kong, yellow umbrellas became a global symbol of popular resistance as pro-democracy demonstrators used the umbrellas to protect themselves from pepper spray and police violence. “During the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong, protesters used yellow umbrellas to shield themselves from tear gas. Here in Pittsburgh we’re using yellow umbrellas to shield Pittsburgh from ALEC’s harmful and undemocratic policies,” said Emily Simons, an event organizer.  The umbrellas used at the ALEC meeting were covered with anti-ALEC slogans like “ALEC OUT of Black Communities,”“STOP Stealing Jobs and Union Busting,” and “Corporate Corruption Poisons Democracy.”

Demonstrators cited ALEC’s role in drafting legislation that hurts workers, people of color, the environment and public education.  “We’re rising up for workers, Black lives, the environment and quality education,” said organizer Julia Johnson. “We’re here to take back our corrupt government and take control of our community,” Johnson continued.

The corporate lobbyists and politicians gathered for the dinner were shocked and frustrated at the disruption. Some took photos while others hurled insults at demonstrators.  After several minutes the demonstrators left the hall.

Hundreds are expected to attend a permitted rally against ALEC in Mellon Square, outside of the William Penn at 12 noon on Friday, May 6th.  More information on Friday’s rally is available online at https://www.facebook.com/events/214842928893443/.

video footage 
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