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Perimeter Poses Permit Problems For Pittsburgh Protests
Groups Planning G-20 Protests Say They Can't Get Proper Permits
A number of marches are being planned to demonstrate on the second day of the G-20 economic summit scheduled Sept. 24 and 25 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.
But with the global gathering slightly more than one month away, some groups that are organizing demonstrations said they've not yet been granted permits to protest.
A statement released Sunday by the Thomas Merton Center, a peace and social justice center in Pittsburgh's Garfield neighborhood, indicated it and as many as 40 other groups are planning a "permitted rally" on Sept. 25 from noon until 5 p.m. The march is planned to stop at the City-County Building and the Federal Building on Grant Street for speak-outs.
From there, the plan is to march down 10th Street to a location a block away from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, where the G-20 summit will be held.
The statement indicated that that group applied for a permit but that the city couldn't "guarantee the groups right to march because the Secret Service will be taking over the event."
On Monday, Merton Center Leaders said they've been turned down for the permit because a security perimeter for the event hasn't been determined.
City officials said they can't approve special event permits until the Secret Service decides where it will set security perimeters for the G-20 summit.
Channel 4 Action News' Bob Mayo spoke to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl on Monday. Mayo reported the mayor is appealing for patience and that the city is trying to find a way to accommodate protesters.
"Logistically, we're trying to plan out where those (demonstration) sites are, where they make sense, are they close to the convention center -- where, of course, many people would prefer. "How do we do that logistically?" Ravenstahl said. "So, these are things we're all planning out, and those who would say otherwise, I would say, just take a deep breath. We have a few weeks here. We are processing these requests. There are a lot of them coming in."
State Sen. Jim Ferlo told Mayo that he's "disappointed" with how the protest situation has been handled so far and that people have a first amendment right to protest, even without a permit.
"We're not going to be denied," said Ferlo, D-Pittsburgh. "We'll either be in Point State Park or we'll be in the streets, but we will fight to preserve and protect our right to free speech and to peacefully assemble."
WTAE Channel 4's Shannon Perrine reported that no protesters will be allowed in the park. The city got a permit to use it before the demonstrators applied, and the area will become a tent city to house as many as 3,100 visiting police officers who will be working security details.
By law, the city must provide two locations where people can be seen and heard from the convention center. The city has not announced where those areas will be, but all demonstrators will be encouraged to use them.
Protesters do not need a permit to march down city streets.
Merton Center leaders said many protest organizers are motivated by their opposition to economic and military policies.
"Anyone who has lost a job, a home, a loved one to war, lost value to a retirement plan, gotten sick from environmental pollution, or lived without adequate health care, water, or food has been directly affected by policies set by the G-20 and should join us on Sept. 25th, said Jessica Banner of the Thomas Merton Center's antiwar committee.
Several organizations, including schools, have already announced planned closures during the G-20 summit.