Dear Occupy Pittsburgh:

So I’ve avoided talking about Occupy Pittsburgh because, as I’ve said, your volcano is a little too burny for me.

But the hell with it. It’s Christmas!

Look, I have nothing against the original actual Occupy protesters’ issues. The rich getting rich off of the poor. The rich getting richer while the poor get poorer. Workers rights in the face of shrinking wages while the CEOs take giant bonuses. Corporate greed.  Worthy issues worthy of protest.

You originally started as an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street and chose to target Bank of New York Mellon’s alleged practice of skimming public pensions illegally. You occupied BNYM’s private property and what started as a home base for a decent number of the 99% with their eyes on one issue, has become a campground for a smorgasbord of your various pet issues — everything from workers’ rights to ending the Iraq War to paper balloting and now, transit cuts.

“Education over incarceration!” “Eat the Rich!” “Dear Capitalism. It’s not you. It’s us. Just kidding. It’s you.”

Now you’re flying the American flag upside down and the banner on the front of Mellon Green, which you “seized” and renamed The People’s Park, reads, “Go ahead. This park is ours. Try us.”

[giant eyeroll]

Look, you’re dangerously close to overstaying your welcome and hell, now that I’ve seen a picture of the muddy park, I’m going to go right ahead and say, “You’ve overstayed your welcome.”

Not just your welcome by BNYM, who allowed you to camp on their property for two months now, but you’ve overstayed your welcome with many regular Burghers who are also part of the 99%. Many of the people you’re fighting for are ready for you to pack it in, regroup, and try a new tactic.

It’s not just that your site is an eyesore, it’s that you have no message. No central issue. No organization of purpose. Sure you’ve winterized your camp and you’re lashing out at BNYM for trying to evict you from their property. Sure you’ve got your weatherization committee and your Legal Working Group and your menstruation tent, all in an effort to give an outward sense of unity and legitimacy to what is more and more evidently a quilt that has been torn apart at the seams, leaving random squares here and there, no longer fitting together to serve any purpose.

BNYM is not listening. Your message has become watered down by extraneous issues. Where will you move onto after you’ve protested Target’s hiring practices and protested the transit cuts?

Protests work best when the people are passionate. It’s hard to stay passionate month after month. This is evident in your dwindling numbers.

Protests work best when the demands are specific, the results are actually obtainable, and the issues are narrow and clear. “EAT THE RICH” is not a specific demand or a definable issue unless you’re an anarchist cannibal.

Protests work best when you have and maintain the support of the people. I fear you’re losing that, if you haven’t already.

You can be a useful quilt again, but you’ve got to go home and start sewing.





  1. Virginia
    December 17, 2011 7:14 pm


    No, I didn’t make up the menstruation tent. I understand it’s real. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.


  2. Occupy Schmoccuppy
    December 17, 2011 7:45 pm

    Who cares?

    They’re not doing any harm – and it makes that intersection slightly more interesting than when it was filled with hot dog eating lunch breakers

  3. don
    December 17, 2011 8:07 pm

    As a member of occupy pittsburgh and as a iraq veteran who was entrusted with a fallen iraq vets coffin flag by his teenage son to proudy fly at occupy, I can assure you that the flag hung upside down is done so following military procedure calling distress and asking for reinforcements. The us veterans hung the flag upside down calling for other vets to come help occupy in their time of need.

    Said flag was stolen and desecrated by 2 retired pgh firefighters. Last night. That is a fallen soldiers flag ad without being taken down in a military ceremony is offensive and disrespectful.

    The veterans request the return of this flag out of respect for the fallen soldier’s family who are beyond upset their husband and father’s flag is missing and being desecrated.

  4. Bram R
    December 17, 2011 8:31 pm

    In re the alleged “menstruation tent”: one day, we received a model yurt. It was good but we weren’t sure what we wanted to do with it yet. As it happened, a few hippee sisters whose cycles had just come into alignment, and decided to sleep in it together and sing or do whatever. So for a while, we called it “the Menstruation Yurt.” Since then it’s been a guest house, a storage shed, and since the cleanup for OP 2.0 it’s been our Social Media yurt. :)

  5. bucdaddy
    December 18, 2011 1:15 pm

    Seems to me anarchy is among the many things that sound like a great idea when you’re 18 and like a moronic idea when you’re 40.

  6. Donncha
    December 18, 2011 1:55 pm

    Anarchism is an interesting political philosophy that, much like Marxism, can be a handy makewight in a wider political system. Neither, however, is grounds for camping in winter. The solution to poverty is not to freeze in solidarity. The homeless are not helped by our emulating them. I’m as pleased and engaged as the next guy by a good street ruckus, and have found the Occupy unit in Pittsburgh to be gracious and devoid of the sanctimony and smugness and age-inspired cliquishness of the anarchists I met at G-20 and the national conventions. My advice would be to regroup, reach out and reconvene on the streets with some very locally specific causes such as transit, school improvement, and accountability and openness from the city’s Medical-Academic combines. As for occupying a department store, hey — if you name your company “Target” you’re kind of asking for it

  7. kd
    December 18, 2011 8:15 pm

    This is the final political post that is taking this blog off my reader…too bad. I really enjoyed your posts about pigeons.

    When you have the courage to do more than whine about people who are giving their time and energy to bring attention to issues of inequality (even transportation inequality), maybe you’ll have an audience.

  8. Noelle
    December 18, 2011 8:23 pm

    kd, you only read blogs of folks who agree with your point of view? How very, very, very sad. If you ever want to run with the mature set, you hop on back over, ya’hear? You have a nice life.

  9. Steelman
    December 18, 2011 8:28 pm


    They are wasting time, energy and tax dollars. Two months of protests have accomplished absolutely nothing! Transportation inequality? My, my are we spoiled.

  10. Yinzer
    December 18, 2011 9:12 pm

    “They are wasting time, energy and tax dollars.” Say what? What tax dollars? Compare the experience of Portland – where there has been an adversarial relationship between Occupy and the police – and the estimated $1.29 million in overtime police costs. Is this what you law-and-order types want? How exactly would that be preferable to the status quo?

    Pittsburgh has had virtually no added costs, no added overtime, no added patrols – no police issues with People’s Park.

    “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” Harriet Tubman

  11. Steelman
    December 18, 2011 9:40 pm

    I like law and order. It sure beats anarchy.

  12. Yinzer
    December 18, 2011 9:49 pm

    People in tents = anarchy? Seriously?

  13. don
    December 18, 2011 9:58 pm

    The occupy fools are part of the everyone gets a trophy generation. America is built on competition. If you can’t cut it you should try to improve, not whine.

  14. Warm in my tent
    December 18, 2011 10:13 pm

    “America is built on competition.” And, America is built on cooperation. And faith. And slavery. Don’t be so quick to lecture people on what America is and is not. Anyway, fairly sure there is something in our charter about domestic tranquility (e.g. regulation to prevent market volatility and off-book calamity) and *promoting* the general welfare (active voice).

  15. Yinzer
    December 18, 2011 10:21 pm

    Also let’s be clear about who is trying to improve things and who is whining. Don, you are whining about us. We’re the ones doing something about it.

  16. Steelman
    December 18, 2011 10:49 pm

    My “anarchy” comment was in response to your apparent antipathy toward us “law-and-order types”. Nonetheless many Occupiers espouse anarchy to achieve their goals.

  17. Yinzer
    December 18, 2011 11:01 pm

    And my comment to your “anarchy” comment was in response to your hyperbole of Occupy’s occupation of People’s Park (Mellon Green) being anarchy. In fact it has been calm and peaceful. Your suggestion will only add conflict and public safety costs – not to mention curtailing free speech. You seem willing to curtail free speech, because you disagree with our message – but you fail to consider how it will also curtail your free speech rights. You seem prepared to accept that. I’m just wondering if you also prefer spending an extra $1.29 million in police overtime just so you can have an empty park.

  18. Dash66
    December 18, 2011 11:06 pm

    I wasn’t going to write on this issue, as I feel that like most political issues, all sides already have their viewpoints formed, and they aren’t going to change their mind, no matter how persuasive the argument. But after reading the post by don, I feel that I need to write about the flag being flown upside down.
    It is sad that a fallen soldier’s flag was stolen, however, that flag should not have been flown upside down.. That action shows disrespect for the flag. And that’s not just me saying that. The laws for how the American Flag is to be flown can be found in the U.S Code Title 4 Chapter 1 – The Flag. Section 8 – Respect for Flag addresses this issue. In fact, it is considered so important that it is the first article written in this section.

    No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
    (a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

    Wanting to bring reinforcements when there is no instance of extreme danger to life or property is not following military procedures. Far from it in fact. Fortunately for you there are no punitive repercussions for incorrectly flying the flag as there are for disobeying most of the U.S. Code But don’t try to make yourself look better by saying that you were following military procedures. Wanting to bring in reinforcements WITHOUT an instance of extreme danger to life or personal property is NOT following military procedures.

    If you would like to look this up for yourself, the US Code regarding the flag can be found at

  19. Steelman
    December 18, 2011 11:13 pm

    Free speech is not squatting on private property and making a mess. If you want to walk on the sidewalk and carry placards, have at it. Based on your view of free speech, I can pitch a tent on your lawn and complain about your Christmas lights, or rusty mailbox, or dog crapping in my yard, or whatever. Blow the dust off your copy of the Bill of Rights.

  20. Bram R
    December 18, 2011 11:38 pm

    I’m just relieved the back n’ forth here seems more intelligent than the Hittsburgh post. “OCCUPY HITTSBURGH”.

    Dash66 – “Wanting to bring reinforcements when there is no instance of extreme danger.” Perhaps we’ve been watching differing newscasts and reading differing reports. Occupiers, veterans and otherwise, have no rose-colored illusions about what they are probably walking into by remaining. Private security is succumbing to instances of belligerency. It would be called ‘civil disobedience’ to remain, and if you don’t think it’s justified, well, you just have a difference of opinion with the occupiers. No surprise there.

    There is also the issue of, when four proud U.S. military veterans with rich experiences get together and set their minds to do something they take extremely seriously, are you REALLY THAT QUICK to tell them they are wrong and for shame. I’m almost glad the flag was stolen stolen, maybe someone will start a dialogue with them instead of lecturing them about the nuances and seriousness of “desecration” and distress.

  21. Lloyd
    December 19, 2011 12:08 am

    I was in DC yesterday and saw the occupiers there.
    It is attention seeking, if force is used it will cause negative pr, and as one of the 99% I am Switzerland.
    If those people want to camp out to roast the rich until golden brown and put them on a graham cracker with a hersheys chocolate bar…good for them. And if the governmenr continues to allow our reps participate in what is viewed by me as insider trading, well, good for them too.
    Im comfortable, Im easy going, Not looking for conflict what so ever.
    If danger arrives at my door, I will defend myself…
    An analogy can be made for occupy Pittsburgh, and I think Virginia would agree: Pigeons.

  22. dash66
    December 19, 2011 12:53 am

    Bram R – well, as a 19 year veteran myself with my own rich experiences, if I was doing something wrong which dishonored my country, no matter how seriously I took what I was doing, I’d want someone to tell me I was wrong, as long as they had the facts to back up WHY which I believe I provided in my last post.

  23. dash66
    December 19, 2011 1:04 am

    Oh, and the US Code doesn’t just say extreme danger, it says extreme danger to life and property. I haven’t heard of widespread killings of occupiers, and as for danger to property, well, its not their property to begin with!

  24. dash66
    December 19, 2011 1:07 am

    Sorry- in my post # 73, I said dishonored when I meant to say disrespected.

  25. Yinzer
    December 19, 2011 1:50 am

    Many of you people still don’t get it. The Occupy movement isn’t a protest movement. It is a rebellion. We’re rebelling against a system where the 99% are expected to follow the rules, but the 1% doesn’t and actually isn’t expected to follow the rules.

    For example, look at the people who bought the US Steel Tower – they should have paid local and state government $10,000,000.00 in realty transfer taxes. But they didn’t. In some circles that is considered acting like a shrewd businessman. The fact is that the 1% live by one set of rules, and the 99% are expected to live by another. We reject that. We’re not willing to live by unfair rules any more.

    Occupy is occupying space that some say we have no right to. According to whose rules? We’re in public space, in a peaceful manner. We’re here to challenge the status quo. This is a symbolic move – we’re not breaking windows, blowing up buildings, planting mines and explosives. We’re defiantly camping out in public space. Big deal!

    Some of you will say that it is private space, and that flies in the face of what it is – a public park. We’ll show that there is more than meets the eye when we file our response in court.

    Think of the occupation part of Occupy Wall Street / Occupy Pittsburgh as a litmus test. If you see that it is a symbolic rebellion against a corrupt status quo – then there is hope for you. If you can’t get past the mud and the poor grass and those poor BNY Mellon billionaires . . . then you are who the Harriet Tubman quotation is directed toward: “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”

  26. Dan (Not Onorato)
    December 19, 2011 8:21 am

    Wait…how are the occupiers reading this? Please tell me they are using smartphones or using the intranet…on a computer…any of those manufactured/provided by big corporations…

    Just sayin…

  27. Cynic
    December 19, 2011 8:48 am

    Dear Occupiers,

    1) Having a college degree does not ENTITLE you to a job. Alot of people have degrees. You still have to know how to apply that degree. Most degrees don’t mean a hell of alot.

    2) ‘Evil Banks’ didn’t just take your house away for no reason. Banks take houses away when you fail to pay your mortgage. That’s how it’s always been.

    3) Nobody OWES YOU ANYTHING.

    4) You might want to read things before you sign them (mortgages, student loans, etc).

    And Dan (Not Onorato) put it best… how are you guys reading this? Don’t you know all those PC’s and smart phones are made by evil corporations that outsource those jobs overseas?

  28. spoon
    December 19, 2011 9:06 am

    Why hasn’t anyone thought about the poor defenseless grass. It is a living thing that has been trampled on and murdered.

    Every time a blade is stepped on Sarah McLachlan writes a song.

  29. SteelCityMagnolia
    December 19, 2011 9:31 am

    So just what the hell is it that these Occupy folks DO that allows them to take 2 months off to make a park they do not own look like a white-trash KOA????

    Life ain’t fair. Lots of times it sucks. There will always be someone who has more than you and someone who has less. Suck it up, buttercup. If you don’t like it, do something to CHANGE it. (And don’t any of you tell me that the Occupy Movement is changing things. I have yet to hear any one of these folks interviewed that can give a coherent answer as to what it is they are trying to prove.)

    Bitching and sitting on your arse in a tent won’t change anything. Hard work will. As someone mentioned above – find a candidate who embodies your views. Work for that candidate. Work tirelessly. Get someone elected that can effect the change you are looking for.

    And actually, if these folks were REALLY anti-corporate, they’d be sleeping bare nekkid out in the open because clothing and tents are made by….. you guessed it. Big corporations.

  30. SpudMom
    December 19, 2011 9:55 am

    The whole point, SteelCityMagnolia, is that HARD WORK isn’t changing anything because the deck is stacked against the so-called 99%. If you don’t see that, you’re wearing a very fancy set of rose-colored glasses there.

    Yes, hard work is important. But what you are failing to realize (many of you, in fact) is that the occupiers aren’t LAZY. They WANT to work. The jobs aren’t there. The pay isn’t there. The benefits aren’t there. The unemployment rate isn’t what it is for nothing, you know. I’m sure that if the occupiers could get a job that would actually support them (or 2 jobs, or 3 jobs) they WOULD. If you think it’s that easy, I challenge you to lose your job and try to find a new one so easily.

    And now, I’m out.

  31. Cynic
    December 19, 2011 10:02 am


    The jobs ARE there… I see alot of these guys come in for interviews. Yet the positions go unfilled because they are unqualified to do them.
    Sure, they have a degree… but few of them have any real work experience. Most have never had a job in their life. They dont understand that we’d rather hire a D student who worked all thru school rather than an A student who never worked.
    Companies don’t want to have to train someone, they want someone who can do the job on day one.

  32. Cynic
    December 19, 2011 10:04 am

    Almost forgot… we also see alot of people at interviews who never bothered to update their skills.
    Times change and workers need to realize that technology changes to.

  33. Dan (Not Onorato)
    December 19, 2011 10:16 am

    @81 Spudmom…with all due respect

    I have to disagree with you on you one major point. Jobs ARE out there…now they may not be exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives but it will pay the bills temporarily. I saw quite a few places that had openings as I was Christmas shopping this weekend and even more openings in the Sunday PG. Even if they are temporary, you never know when an employer may like the way you work and keep you in mind for a future position or can be used as a reference.

    I just have a difficult time supporting a cause that is basically destroying public property and/or has no defined mission/cause.

  34. Steve P.
    December 19, 2011 10:47 am

    Jobs aren’t that easy to find, but they are there. I know because I’m helping a new employee get set up; today is his first day.

    He graduated over a year ago with a degree in Economics, and discovered what a lot of young people are finding out – just having a degree doesn’t guarantee you a position. So he worked for minimum wage and taught himself programming in nine months to set up his own web application. He’s no senior level guy, he’s just starting out, but after interviewing him I was more than impressed enough to give him a chance. And now he finally has the entry point into an adult career and a full-time salary.

  35. MissChris
    December 19, 2011 10:52 am

    We are a capitalist country. There is nothing we can do about it. Like so many other things in this country, capital isn’t the problem, its the people abusing it.

    If these Occupy people want sit in the park, carry signs and sing Kumbaya, I really don’t care. Just don’t become a problem.

    I just finished the book John Adams and I encourage everyone to read it. It reminded me that the purpose of government is not to make sure we have clothes, food, shelter or money. (I know people need help and I am not opposed to it.) But we need to get back to helping ourselves. There are jobs available. But let’s get real for a second, there are some people that say “I would never work at McDonalds.” I don’t care where I work, just so long as I am providing for myself and my family.

  36. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    December 19, 2011 10:55 am

    @Ginny’s Dad – thank you.

  37. Steelman
    December 19, 2011 1:36 pm

    I sense from the comments by the Occupiers that envy is at the root of their displeasure. They mask it by saying the rich are evil and the poor are good. They want what the rich have without working for it. They don’t see the hard work, stress, sacrifice, failures and risk that many entrepreneurs experienced to achieve the status of “rich”.

    Yes, some of the “rich” have exploited the poor to get wealthy, but I believe it is the exception and not the rule. They are smart enough to know that if they don’t treat their people fairly and provide decent working conditions, they won’t be in business very long. Millions of people, like me, depend on the “rich” for their livelihood. Punish the “rich” unjustifiably and the “poor” will suffer more harm.

  38. Bill
    December 19, 2011 2:00 pm

    HITTSBURGH is completely awesome…. it is a NEW COMFY, FUN, and SEXY way to represent your black and gold! THANK YOU for finally getting some new gear out there! LOVE HITTSBUGH . Yes they have sexy cozy outfits for the ladies as well as stylish hoodies and even hats and accessories! All the RIGHT love HITTSBURGH…. JAMES HARRISON AND THE MAYOR.To the rest of these bitter commenters ..who are you?

  39. Alison
    December 19, 2011 2:24 pm

    I agree 100%. I’m part of the 99% for sure and I agree with most of the things they are protesting about but guys, you’ve made your point. Time to pack it up. Unfortunately, I really don’t think the 1% gives a rat’s ass and your protest won’t change a thing.

    Plus, it’s cold as balls out there. Go home, regroup, and give it a go again in the spring if you want.

  40. Cynic
    December 19, 2011 3:08 pm

    Sleeping in a park, chanting meaningless phrases and hoping things change hasn’t worked too well for homeless bums for the past 100+ years…

  41. SteelCityMagnolia
    December 19, 2011 3:23 pm

    From SpudMom: If you think it’s that easy, I challenge you to lose your job and try to find a new one so easily.

    I DID lose my job. In August, 2008. I was out of work for nearly a year and a half. In that time, I took any kind of job I could find while I was looking for a my big, real, grown-up job. I pumped gas. Clerked in convenience stores, temped at any number of minimum-wage shit jobs. And what was so funny about it is that I took jobs that would have been absolutely great starting positions for kids right out of college, but the folks at the temp agencies told me they wanted no parts of those jobs. I guess if you can’t start off as CEO, then why bother???

    I’ve worked since I was thirteen, most of the time more than one job. Not because I HAVE to, but because I enjoy being busy, being challenged, and knowing that if the rug gets yanked out from underneath me ever again, I’m landing on my own two feet.

    How many Occupiers can say that?

  42. NerdHerd
    December 19, 2011 3:42 pm

    Cynic: I like everything you’ve said, but especially about the interviewees for work. We can hardly find anyone who has worked through college or even did summer internships. WTH did these people expect? I’d rather hire someone I have to train if they seem to at least have a WORK ETHIC than someone who’s coming fresh out of college, no work experience, and expects a salary higher than mine.

    Also, thank you dash66. My father is a veteran of two wars and was APALLED that anyone let alone veterans were flying a flag upside down. I carried the American flag for my high school band and my dad made me read the code to ensure I would never inadvertantly disrespect the flag.

    In general, I think people have a right to free speach, but O.P. has definitely overstayed their welcome in my opinion.

  43. unsatisfied
    December 19, 2011 3:51 pm

    butcher’s dog agreed with me on something?!?? that’s it, I’m done on this blog.


  44. sleemo
    December 19, 2011 5:31 pm

    Steve P.: Wonderful. Now hire about 13.5 million more people. I’m sure they’ll be happy to do whatever they can.

    We had a new guy start at our office today, too: One of the 107 people that ECI Telecom is booting. No way our company can absorb even a fraction of that number, and most of our employees have, minimum, a Master’s in CS from CMU.

    I’d be very curious to hear burghbaby’s take on this.

    Ginny, I find your stance, frankly, astonishing, given that (A) you yourself have called yourself “unemployable” (a label that’s been slapped on many of the protestors) and (B) your restaurant would’ve gone TITS UP months ago if it hadn’t been for the support of your readers, a large number of whom, I daresay, will stop frequenting this site now.

  45. Virginia
    December 19, 2011 5:48 pm

    Sleemo, really?

    I’m unemployable because I am notorious. That’s my own fault. In addition, where in my post did I say anything against the original Occupy movement? Read it again. My point is simply that they’re losing the support of the public now and they no longer have a unified message, but rather are protesting so many issues that it’s hard to gain any worthwhile momentum to affect change.

    I simply gave them advice to try a new tactic because this one isn’t working and is starting to anger people. Just my opinion for the love of God.

    You hold my readers in so low of regard that you believe those that disagree with me will not be able to bear to read my stuff anymore and will also withhold their business from me?

    If that’s really the case then my God, the state of political discourse in this country really has finally hit the bottom of the barrel.

    What the hell happened to being able to debate and express opinions about politics without low blows and name calling and taking your ball and going home?

    If my opinion would cause a “large number of” readers to no longer go to Las Velas, then I have two choices. 1. Stop giving my opinion for fear of retribution, or 2. Realize that those readers who will punish me for my opinions are no better than those who fired me or refuse to hire me because of them.

  46. Steelman
    December 19, 2011 5:51 pm


    I had to go back and reread Ginny’s article to determine why you found it so offensive. Ginny tactfully just said that the Occupiers message had become incoherent and radical, in some respects, that their tactics were not working and they needed to regroup. If her readers are offended by that then I think they are way too sensitive.

  47. eringill9
    December 19, 2011 6:38 pm

    Virginia: “What the hell happened to being able to debate and express opinions about politics without low blows and name calling and taking your ball and going home?”

    So “menstration” tent = high-road criticism?

    The occupiers are putting something on the line. They got out from behind their blogs and their snark and put their bodies where their beliefs are. They’re evolving, planning, organizing, and doing the best they can to challenge and call out the corporate greed that has crippled regular folks’ ability to make it in America. I’m thankful for their courage and commitment.

  48. Steelman
    December 19, 2011 6:58 pm

    @ eringill9

    If you think that the occupiers are going to eliminate corporate greed, you are naive about human nature. Unfortunately greed is part of the human condition. Occupiers would have more impact working in the real world and making positive contributions. It takes more courage and sacrifice to do that than living in tents and demanding that the “evil” rich people give you jobs and pay for your education.

  49. Virginia
    December 19, 2011 8:03 pm


    The menstruation tent wasn’t a low blow. It was a real thing. Not something I just made up in my head, but honestly, it totally sounds like something I could make up in my head.

    Bram explains it up there.