- Posted August 14, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your view of the Ferguson protests
Police Excessive Force-Nothing New (1989)
I was teaching "Writing for Radio and Television" as an adjunct professor at Robert Morris University and working fulltime as a member of the "Power 104" morning show. In addition, I was the News Director for the station. The year was 1989.
The "Greatful Dead" were performing at the Civic Arena for two shows. After the first night, there were conflicting stories about kids gone wild and/or police gone wild. Since I was the Social Science contributor to our morning show, I decided to escort my students to the Arena so that they could experience the interview process when writing a documentary. I also wanted to investigate the real cause of the melee that allegedly broke at the first "Dead" show.
I found the Night-Watch commander, Commander Edwards, and while I was interviewing him, I heard a motorcycle speeding up through the crowd, with "Dead" fans barely making it out of the way of the charging Harley with a sidecar.
It turned out that the motorcycle officer was chasing a man who was carrying a can of beer, near gate one, where the Commander and I were standing. The officer was closing in on the man, pulling up beside him exactly where I had a clear view of the action, knocking the man down, narrowly missing the man's head.
I had just asked the Commander what crowd control techniques he and his officers were going to use that evening to avoid a repeat of the problems of the night before. So as soon as I witnessed the near miss of the man's head as he was knocked to the ground, I said, in a questioning way, to the Commander," is that what you call crowd control?" He said no, and left my side to involve himself in the problem at hand.
As I later left the area where the man was knocked down, the officer who knocked him down, knowing that I had been talking with his supervisor, grabbed me from behind, handcuffed me and said, you f___ing hippie, you are going to die in jail tonight.
Luckily, the Commander was also walking down from Gate One, saw what was happening to me, and demanded that the offending officer release me. We then walked over to where the promoter was standing.
The next morning, on the air, we had lots to talk about.
A couple of days later, the City Solicitor called me and asked if we could meet, after listening to "Tony, Robin, and Ford" in the morning." We had a lot about which to talk. He asked if I could meet with Mayor Sofie Mazloff. I said sure.
I scheduled a meeting, travelled into the city the next day, and when I entered the City-County building I was told to walk on back to the Mayor's Office and have a seat.
The Mayor had a very easily identifiable voice, so as she approached her office door, while talking with someone, I stood and extended my hand for a hand shake as she arrived at the door. She abruptly stopped, put her hands on her hips and said, "who are you!" I replied with my name. She countered by saying, "well you're one of the ones who caused all of that trouble." I said "no Mayor, it was your police officers who caused it." She thought for a moment, then said, "well you know, with that long hair, you're askin for it."
Needles to say, I left the abbreviated meeting with more to talk about on the air!
A full version of what you will see here is on YouTube..."Pittsburgh Police Excessive Force, Twenty Years Before the G-20"