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Pittsburgh to Its Homeless: Go Away, Come Again Another Day - The Substance of Truth - By Tolu Olorunda - Columnist

“Waste,” “undesirable,” “embarrassing,” “disposable” - just a few kind words Pittsburgh, PA, officials could have used to cut to the chase, rather than employing more sophisticated stratagems like, say, ejecting the city’s homeless population from under the Rachel Carson Bridge (better known as the Ninth Street Bridge) - to protect them from the sights of G-20 foreign leaders set to make landfall later this week. F**k off, Mr. Charlie!

Jasiri X, an immensely skilled Hip-Hop artist, media literacy educator, and community activist, provided, on his blog,, details concerning this crisis in humanity. He interviewed a homeless man, Ted, who told of how a “white-shirt [sergeant]” pulled up “down here about 9:46 this morning, and said, you know, you [have] to be out by noon.” Officials in Pittsburgh, Ted believes, “don’t want President Obama to see us, because the city of Pittsburgh wants to keep that funding money for their self - their own pockets.”

The officials were too kind in providing exquisite, barricaded ostracized outlets for them to lay their mattresses (where else has that concept been used?), while the G20 is in town, “and not be bothered.” Not to worry: They can come back when the world’s most powerful men have left town, shut-out and sheltered from the dehumanizing realities - living evidences! - of homelessness in Pittsburgh. For now, however, it’s eviction time!

Several volunteer organizations have also been warned to stay clear of the bridge, Ted reported. Not for any insidious reason, though. The strategy is to force the hungry and homeless into wandering for food in garbage cans along the street, as opposed to, I suppose, being fed conveniently at the palace they’ve created for themselves - under a rush-hour bridge. The message: “As long as you keep feeding them, they’re gonna stay.”

So, why not starve them to death! That’s a plan. A Master plan. And what better way to make this mark, than through non-for-profit social groups who, one would assume, pledge in their mission statements to do right by the disenfranchised - over and above the command or expectations of empire.

Ted’s message, if given the opportunity to speak with his President, would be direct: “We’re trying to help ourselves. All we need is a hand-up; not a handout.”

Unfortunately, it seems, the hand’s too short to reach undesirables like him - but not for billionaire bankers or avaricious lobbyists!

* * *

Full Report by Jasiri X Printed Below:

On Friday I traveled with fellow One HOOD member Paradise Gray and Teisha Stolich under the 9th Street Bridge on the North Side of Pittsburgh to shoot footage for the Season 3 Premiere of This Week With Jasiri X. The reason we wanted to record here is because Pittsburgh is trying to sell itself as this “revitalized” city that has not felt the debilitating effects of the recession. We wanted to show the REAL Pittsburgh, that is very much still suffering economically.

When we arrived we approached the people forced to live in these wretched conditions about what we were doing and why we wanted to document their struggle. What we found out made an already dire situation even worse. The City of Pittsburgh was forcing them to move away from downtown so the leaders of the G-20 summit would not see Pittsburgh’s homeless. Just a few hours earlier they were told by the police they had to pack up and move their things immediately or be subjected to arrest.

Ted shared with us his story of filling out application after application but being denied a job because he listed his address as “under the 9th St Bridge”. He talked about how the City of Pittsburgh was telling agencies not to feed them because they wanted them to leave for the G-20. He remarked to us how very few people cared to help them, except for one very popular Pittsburgher…..Troy Polamalu. Yes, that Troy Polamalu. Ted told us how Troy Polamalu would come under the 9th St bridge on several occasions with groceries and give everyone $20.00 bills. In fact, as we were leaving a white Toyota pulled up and driving was, you guessed it, Troy Polamalu.

I hope to have an update in the next few days about where Ted and the other “residents” spend the G-20. And if they indeed return to their “home” under the 9th St bridge.

Watch the Interview Here: Columnist, Tolu Olorunda, is a Nigerian native and cultural critic. Click here to reach Mr. Olorunda.


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September24 , 2009
Issue 343

is published every Thursday

Executive Editor:
Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield
Peter Gamble
Est. April 5, 2002
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