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Occupy Fitzgerald

Published by Andrew McGill on .

As marchers converged on the Allegheny County Courthouse yesterday during the city-wide "Power Shift" rally, a dozen or so broke off around noon and made their way to the office of County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who has proposed drilling beneath at least one county park.

Once there, they sat down and pulled out signs, vowing to stay until Mr. Fitzgerald agreed to hold multiple public meetings debating the issue.
 
"Mr. Fitzgerald has made it clear that he will do everything possible to give this land to the frackers," said Ashley Bittner, a 21-year-old Chatham University student. "Public parks are for the people, of the people, and should be governed by the people, not one man."
 
As the outdoor rally concluded, dozens more protesters surged into the courthouse lobby, cordoned by police officers. They spoke and sang, supporting the sit-in inside the office.

 

Mr. Fitzgerald entered and left the office several times, escorted by guards. During his last trip back in — he had just given an impromptu news conference in a colleague's office where he said he wouldn't be engaging with the protesters that day — the county executive reappeared at his office door and addressed the crowd.

"I know I've met a lot of you many times," Mr. Fitzgerald told the group. "Schedule an appointment."

"This is our meeting!" they shouted back.

That was that. After Mr. Fitzgerald went back inside, the protesters packed up and declared victory, albeit without securing an answer to their demands.

"We brought attention to the issue," said Mel Packer, one of the protesters occupying the office.

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