Many thanks to Mila Sanina at The Digs for highlighting the great Pittsburgh protester Robert Lansberry, who died 14 years ago last month.
Lansberry was a fixture on Downtown Pittsburgh streets in the 80s and 90s, and known for outlandish sandwich boards targeting elected officials, including one saying "COYNE SUCKS." Former U.S. Rep. Bill Coyne was no fan of the obviously troubled guy, but showed class when he talked about him for the obituary I wrote in 1999, and gave me the anecdote I used at the top:
Imagine what was going on in Robert R. Lansberry's mind.
He had been carrying his black-and-white sandwich boards around his neck for years, since he first felt the silent mind-controlling radio waves sent by the CIA in the 1970s. In the beginning, he protested by sending the government letters, but when he started to suspect that the feds -- through their agents at the U.S. Postal Service -- were censoring his mail, he took his protest to the streets.
Though his signs -- which Mr. Lansberry wore Downtown and at most big public events citywide -- said lots of things over the years, a usual target was U.S. Rep Bill Coyne, D-Oakland.
Coyne was a federal official, after all, and he hadn't cracked the mail censorship case, let alone the greater CIA conspiracy underneath it.
Then came the parade.
Mr. Lansberry was there as usual with his signs, getting the message out, and who should come walking down the street but Coyne himself, at the head of a large group of marchers. As the group got closer to Mr. Lansberry, he saw they were federal employees and letter carriers at that.
"Get me my mail!" Mr. Lansberry yelled.
Pittsburgher Rich Pell an in-depth documentary on Lansberry -- and his 400-page FBI file -- called "Don't Call Me Crazy On The 4th Of July." His assault on Coyne is featured at 17:45: