Cracks in the Steel City: Anarchist News from Pittsburgh || J.1 – M.22

Cracks in the Steel City is a filler column that recaps local news that anarchists in Pittsburgh may find interesting, with a particular focus on autonomous, illegalist, and insurrectionist activity. We also include information about fascist activity, state repression, and capitalist maneuvering.

All news content is sourced from anonymous submissions & communiques, social media, police reports, or capitalist media outlets. Because of this, all dates are approximates and may vary in accuracy.

Let us know what we missed.

What Went Down


  • According to police reports, 69 (nice) vehicles were stolen over the month of January. Capitalist media coverage indicates that the bulk of the vehicles belonged to UberEats drivers operating around the gentrified blocks of East Liberty, with a particular concentration between South Highland Avenue and the Google campus in Bakery Square. Many have been forced into the gig-economy, and while one can empathize with their struggles it is important to acknowledge that resistance to gentrification in East Liberty takes many forms.

January 4

I’m writing today from occupied Cherokee territory to describe a failed action undertaken by myself, inspired by media seen on the Filler Distro social channels.

I received a misdemeanor citation for shoplifting a few hundred dollars worth of merchandise at a big box corporate store, one whose profits have soared since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and whose workers have risked their lives for the same meager hourly wage. I was there for supplies for houseless survival kits: items such as backpacks, gloves, a sleeping bag, warm hats, several pairs of pants in various sizes, packages of socks and shirts, deodorant, tampons, toothbrushes and other toiletries in travel sized containers, first aid kits, covid masks, etc. I intended to assemble the supplies into kits and distribute them amongst the local houseless population, which has of course seen a boom recently.

The report goes on to describe exactly what went wrong, what lessons were learned, and then goes on to offer an outline for future strategic thinking.

January 6

Capitalist media reports “Dozens of tires slashed in Butler Co. mall lot after group went to Washington, D.C. [to attend the attempted pro-Trump putsch]. The cars were parked in the Clearview Mall parking lot after the group boarded buses.” The attack disabled dozens of Trumper’s vehicles.

January 13

  • A Sunoco in Bloomfield is robbed at gunpoint.

January 20

  • Filler receives two anonymous submissions regarding two banner-drops.

Banner-drop on the Bigelow pedestrian bridge: NO BORDERS NO WALLS NO PRESIDENTS AT ALL

Banner dropped from the 33rd Street train bridge: WE KEEP US SAFE 412-FUCK-12

January 24

  • A private vehicle with a “we support our Pittsburgh police” sign had its rear windshield smashed out in Lawrenceville.

January 29

On Thursday morning, a collection of autonomous activists blockaded the sole access road to the Shell Polymer’s office in Beaver, PA to protest the transformation of the Ohio Valley into a manufacturing hub for the petrochemical industry. Shell Polymers is a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, and they are constructing an ethane cracking facility in Beaver that will be used to turn fracked gas into plastic.   


February 2

  • A WPXI headline reads “Teenagers terrorizing Pittsburgh neighborhood with bizarre crimes, police say.” The reality appears to be that a group of teens are having fun during quarantine by fucking with their white Karen neighbors; stealing their security cameras, setting dumpsters on fire, and pulling fire alarms.
  • Capitalist media reports that a man is arrested for making bomb threats against the federal building in downtown Pittsburgh. The suspect reportedly stated “the government owes me money.” The suspect will be charged with terroristic threats and threat to use weapons of mass destruction.

February 5

  • Local abolitionists launch a campaign to help community members incarcerated at the Allegheny County Jail regain access to commissary funds, recreation, showers, and video visits.

February 6

  • Pittsburgh Fash Watch released a community alert, “Crypto-fascists Discovered in Pittsburgh.” The dossier linked is an extensive and well-researched investigation into this local crypto-fascist network.

February 7

  • Capitalist media reports that an off-duty officer plowed his car into a home, injuring two.

February 12

  • Pittsburgh Fash Watch alerts community to continued collaboration between right-wing restaurant The Crack’d Egg and fascist group Iron City CRU.
  • Capitalist media reports that at 7am, a man crashed his pickup into a Sunoco in the Hill District and attempted to steal an ATM. After a few seconds of struggling to load the machine into his truck, surveillance footage shows a bystander try to help. The man drove off without the ATM, but was arrested a short time later on Fifth Avenue in Oakland.

February 14

  • Capitalist media reports that a man was tased and arrested early Sunday morning after assaulting a Pittsburgh Police officer. At some point during the altercation, the accused allegedly managed to pocket the officer’s keys.
  • Capitalist media reports “A Pittsburgh Police officer was taken to the hospital following his cruiser crashing into a home on Pittsburgh’s North Side.”
  • Capitalist media reports that a new phone scam is enjoying moderate success.
  • A Valentine’s Day noise demo takes place outside of Allegheny County Jail. The following report-back circulates social media:

Neither ice nor snow nor forecasted bitterly cold temps kept a big-hearted, masked- and bundled-up crew of some 50 of us from showing up outside Allegheny County Jail tonight to offer lotsa love to those still trapped behind bars. Our #Love4Abolition noise demo included a live band, a capella singing, and sound system tunes, all accompanied by lotsa banging on pots and pans and lotsa dancing, along with two illuminated banners (both with lite-up hearts), mutual aid from legal, medic, and food collectives, and the message pictured here—and best of all, reciprocal dancing, waving, and lights flashing on and off from those inside ACJ. To support ongoing solidarity efforts on the stolen lands of Pittsburgh to lend care to currently and formerly incarcerated folks in numerous ways, check out, get involved with, and/or donate to @jailbreakpgh and @bukitbailfund.

February 15

  • Capitalist media reports that two people were arrested in their vehicle outside of Home Depot with $1,300 in stolen goods.

February 16

  • The Graffiti Task Force releases photos of BATMAN BEYOND suspect.
  • Capitalist media reports that,

A suspect is in custody after shots were fired at a Braddock police officer. As soon as he saw the Braddock police car, he started shooting at him,” Daniele said.

The chief said those bullets only hit the cop car. The suspect then took off, prompting an all-out search from nearly a dozen neighboring departments.

“A dog tracked some snow prints to an abandoned home up here on Lobinger. County officers tracked the rest of it and realized there was a man barricaded in one of the houses up on the hill,” Daniele said.

After SWAT and negotiators took over, that suspect was taken into custody and will be charged.

Daniele told KDKA the man did have a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but it is not life-threatening. Medics did check him out on scene.

During the course of the investigation, the car from the original call was reported stolen.

February 17

  • Capitalist media reported that police are looking for three suspects who stole two vehicles from a car dealership in Washington County. As of this writing, no suspects have been publicly identified.

February 21

  • Filler received the following photo-submission from MUTINY:

February 25

  • Filler receives anonymous report of alt-right graffiti in lawrencville. Shortly after, @pghfashwatch reports that anti-fascists have covered the graffiti.
  • Filler receives the following announcement:

412 Defense Funds is a list of active Pittsburgh felony defense funds related to the 2020 uprising. This site is an autonomous project, unaffiliated with any of the individual campaigns. In solidarity with all defendants. Only the State is guilty.

February 26

  • Filler receives the following submission:

    Corinne Rust Belt Tension Duval passed away at the age of 32. In every attack, every trespass, every reading group, every adventure, Corinne is present. She will never be forgotten. The State will feel the weight of our grief.

February 27

  • Filler receives a report that BLEACH has covered transphobic stickers that were spotted earlier in the East End.
  • Capitalist media reports “WESTMORELAND, Pa. — A Pennsylvania man searched for ‘how to set your car on fire and make it look like an accident’ on his cellphone before setting his vehicle aflame, investigators said.”


March 1

  • Three gas stations were robbed in under an hour. The first robbery was reported at the Marathon gas station along Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville around 1:25 Monday morning. Investigators say the second robbery was reported at the Shell gas station along Baum Boulevard in East Liberty about 20 minutes later, around 1:45 a.m.

    In two of the robberies, two men, at least one of whom was armed, entered the businesses and demanded money, making off with cash and cigarettes.

    “People are really hurting out here financially. It’s bringing a lot of problems on the workplace and the environment,” an employee told KDKA.

    Pittsburgh Police have not said if it is the same two alleged suspects at each robbery. At this point, there is no description on any suspects.

March 2

  • Capitalist media reports that the Pittsburgh Police are cracking down on people illegally driving off-road vehicles on city streets.

    Public Safety says in 2020, the city started seeing large numbers of off-road vehicles like ATVs and dirt bikes driving recklessly — taking over roadways and intersections, driving on sidewalks and in many cases, going in the wrong direction.

    According to Public Safety, “flash mobs” or “ride-outs” have as many as 50 to 200 riders roaming Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods at any given time.

    Public Safety says just in the past week, police issued eight citations and towed two vehicles from a ride-out event. One citation came from a traffic stop where a dirt bike rider was driving the wrong way toward police on N. Beatty Street.

    Triblive quoted Pittsburgh police Commander Eric Holmes as saying, “We cannot address this problem alone and we are asking for the public’s help to put an end to these dangerous and disruptive ride-outs in the city.” Haha good luck with that, ya jag.

March 4

  • Pittsburgh City Council has decided to table its discussion of a “no-knock bill” for two weeks.

March 6

  • Filler received the following anonymous communique:

    “Last night I attacked several corporate store fronts as a modest contribution to the March 6 Day of Action, and as a means of grieving a lost loved one. I miss you, Duval.”
  • Filler received the following anonymous communique:

    “some friends went on a prole strole and smashed a few cameras, but one of them had an alarm attached to it that went off so be aware of that”

March 8

  • “Drop the charges” and pro-rioter graffiti photos begin circulating social media.
  • “RIP TENSION” & “RIP Duval” graffiti photos begin circulating social media.
  • Filler received the following anonymous report:

    “mounted police on butler st and reported in troy hill, today is the first day of chauvins trial.”

March 10

  • After Chase Bank announced that they would be giving $200 gift cards to anyone who opens a new account, hundreds of Pittsburgh-area residents had their identities stolen and used to open fake Chase Bank accounts in their name. The bank expropriation scam does not appear to have used the stolen identities for any other purpose. Despite federal assistance, a multi-department police task force has yet to announce any leads on the case.

March 11

  • Filler received a communique from “team fuck shit” claiming responsibility for stealing 17 Peduto campaign signs.
  • Pittsburgh Fash Watch reports on the removal of transphobic stickers between 40th and 44th on Davison St.
  • Capitalist media reports that Pittsburgh Public Schools will be taking high school students to court for truancy, despite repeated attempts on behalf of the students and their families to demonstrate that they were unable to use Zoom or their home internet connection to attend online classes.

March 12

  • Filler received the following anonymous communique:

    “Anarchists in Pittsburgh dropped a banner at a pedestrian bridge in solidarity with those fighting back against Line 3 and pipelines everywhere. Living in Pittsburgh makes us acutely aware of the risks of industrial pollution.”

March 13

  • Capitalist media reports that the Pennsylvania State Police will be canceling their Spring and Summer Youth Cadet Training Camps due to concerns over the COVID pandemic. At “Camp Cadet,” kids aged 12-15 are forced to dress in uniform, march in formation, and attend police seminars on build a positive relationship with law enforcement personnel in exchange for free food.

March 15

  • A noise demonstration is held in solidarity with community members incarcerated at the Allegheny County Jail.
  • Filler received a communique from Ohio Valley Environmental Resistance:

    OVER & several affinity groups held a noise demo outside the home of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald to protest his support of the petrochemical industry.”

March 16

  • New issue of Occupy Pittsburgh News dropped. It continues the paper’s coverage of how the Pittsburgh city government, local universities, private developers, and big tech are trying to bulldoze through two neighborhoods and Schenley Park to build a road used exclusively by “autonomous” vehicle shuttles for students & techies. The project also appears to deliberately worsen flood patterns in the hoods.

March 17

  • Pitt, CMU & tech giants launch ‘collaboratory’ that will “study how extremism is generated, how it shapes polarizing views, how it provokes illegal acts” & “develop tools that provide effective intervention for law enforcement” & “combating radicalism.” They also intend to develop methods of tracking radical networks that use encrypted networks. You know, to stop hate. Yeah. Thats why.

March 19

  • Two plainclothes, unidentified police followed, jumped and arrested two comrades after the climate strike. They did not identify themselves, and at least one comrade will be facing felony charges.
  • Filler received a report indicating that fascist graffiti in Oakland had been covered.
  • Capitalist media reports “Pennsylvania state House passes bill upping penalty for spitting on police officers.”

Under existing law, spitting on a police officer is treated the same as spitting on any other person. The perpetrator could be charged with disorderly conduct.

That currently could be charged as either a summary offense or a third degree misdemeanor, with penalties ranging from a fine of $25 to $1,000, and up to a year in prison.

Schmitt’s bill would bump up spitting, or knowingly throwing any other bodily substances, such as blood, urine, or feces, on a police officer to a first degree misdemeanor. That’s punishable with two-and-a-half to five years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000. As written, the bill elevated the misdemeanor to a felony if the spitter had a communicable disease. The bill also specifically notes Hepatitis-B and HIV-AIDS.

This matches the existing law for “bodily fluid assault,” Schmitt said.

Right now, the only specific statute covering spitting applies if the offender is a prisoner. In that case, spitting on anyone else, including a police officer or corrections officer, is automatically a felony if the prisoner is “infected by a communicable disease, including, but not limited to, [HIV] or hepatitis B.”

March 20

  • Despite the COVID shutdown, federal investigation, and brief autonomous blockades like the one in January, Shell announced that the cracker plant in Beaver County will be fully operational in 2022. Unless more delays occur, of course.
  • Google announces plans to expand its little company-town in Walnut Capital’s Bakery Square.
  • The snitch-seeker squad & surveillance task force are re-mobilized. Civil Affairs and DAAT can eat shit.
  • Filler received the following anonymous submission:

    “Looks like someone capped the duo lingo mural. Maybe they’ll leave better art work up or pay someone in the community to paint it next time. Fuck tech giants.”

March 22

  • Pennsylvania State Police and the bomb squad were called to a Walmart in Westmoreland County for a suspicious package.

Find each other.

You can send your report-backs, zine submissions, critiques, graffiti/action photos, demo tapes, hate mail, & memes to…

We’ll try to publish your report // promote your content // reply in a reasonable amount of punk time.

Send reports in email form, as an attachment, or better yet, on an easy to use (and free) Riseup Pad or CryptPad.

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