The police were a calm presence at opera protest

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Saturday night, I watched 200 or more seriously disappointed individuals tell Gov. Tom Corbett they didn't like his administration.

Through a narrow alley in the Strip District, Pittsburgh Opera supporters in their luxury rides and black ties had to run a picket line of teachers, moms, kids and grandparents, union members, artists and activists, who made it clear Mr. Corbett's budget cuts have got to go.

I firmly agree with them.

But that doesn't really matter.

What mattered, and what really matters in this town, is how the cops reacted.

They were calm. They spoke to the protesters. They gave people reasonable access. They didn't privilege the well-heeled attendees beyond their rights. They did not act as if the forces of radical Bolshevism were about to occupy Pittsburgh. No pepper spray was let fly on 24th Street. No one got shoved onto the pavement to protect the flow of traffic.

The police were a model of professionalism and local decency. They did their jobs and gave folks the benefit of the doubt. Don't be stupid and we won't hassle you. They did not "over-enforce" the letter of the law.

Ever jaywalked to a Steelers game? You know what I mean.

In economic and cultural terms, I believe Gov. Corbett is going to set Pennsylvania back 10 years. That's a political opinion, so you can disagree with me. Let's fight it out at the polls. We don't have to share that.

What we should share, what we do share, is a commitment to civic respect and common sense. Call it The Pittsburgh Way.

We're a mouthy people. We speak our minds in no uncertain terms. You could say we're blue around the spiritual collar and believe in a tough love, but I think as a city we don't truck with unnecessary roughness -- in either direction, from left or right, protester or policeman, governor or the governed.

I want to thank the Pittsburgh police for being a model of that code this weekend. Well done.



First Published May 17, 2012 12:00 AM


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