G-20 Summit Protests Expected to Remain Peaceful

Article excerpt

Some University of Pittsburgh sociologists expect this week's Group of 20 summit protests and demonstrations to be peaceful -- despite police preparations for disruptions and media reports of violence at similar events.

Pitt's Department of Sociology, which specializes in social movements, plans a panel discussion focusing on Pittsburgh's G-20 protests at noon Wednesday, said Professor Kathleen Blee, the department's chair.

The discussion is scheduled for the department conference room at 2400 Posvar Hall, 230 Bouquet St. in Oakland.

"It'll be an opportunity to get a quick read on what scholars know about protest movements," Blee said.

Pitt sociology professors Suzanne Staggenborg and Rachel Kutz- Flamenbaum plan to survey as many as 500 protesters to compile a profile of G-20 demonstrators and determine how their concerns might differ from those at other events.

"For example, I expect climate change to be very important at the same time that concerns about the economy are central," Staggenborg said. "We want to try to understand what motivates people to participate and what they hope to gain from the protests."

Kutz-Flamenbaum said social movements and protests are a fundamental part of democracy.

"Even the most cursory glance at history shows that protest is effective," she said. "Two hundred years ago, the only people in the U.S. who were allowed to vote were white men. Today suffrage is a near universal right. …