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A US rights group is suing the city of Pittsburgh and the US Secret Service on behalf of activists seeking to protest the upcoming G-20 summit to be held here September 24 and 25.
“We’ve been very patient. We simply can’t wait any longer,” Walczak told AFP, adding that 13 requests for demonstration permits had been submitted to municipal authorities, but only two were approved, for dates before the summit.
The activists, who say in the lawsuit that they “represent thousands of people who oppose the undemocratic way in which the G20 operates” want permission use parks in the city as camping space for visiting protestors and the green light for a protest that would pass close to the conference center where heads of state are meeting.
“The plaintiffs seek to engage in peaceful, constitutionally protected expressive activities during the upcoming G20 summit in Pittsburgh,” the lawsuit says.
Jules Lobel of the Center for Constitutional Rights offered support for the filing.
“The first amendment prohibits the government from deciding to allow or not certain people to speak whether they have different messages. The government can’t dictate who speaks their message.”
The court is expected to deliver a ruling on the case at the beginning of next week.
As the clock ticked down Friday on an ultimatum leveled by dozens of protest groups demanding unconditional permits to demonstrate during the G-20 economic summit, Pittsburgh officials worked to avoid lawsuits from the organizations.
An attorney for the protest groups predicted the city would grant all but two permits next week.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's staff, Public Safety Director Mike Huss, police brass and city solicitors met yesterday morning to discuss requests for 15 permits. Officials said they were trying to balance the public's right to demonstrate with the Secret Service's mandate to safeguard world leaders and their delegates at the Sept. 24-25 meeting.
Mayoral spokeswoman Joanna Doven said leaders would continue to work with national and local protest groups and federal authorities to arbitrate requests to occupy choice Downtown real estate.
"We're trying to be approachable and to work it out for everyone," Doven said. "Believe it or not, we want these marches to occur, but we also realize that the Secret Service needs to have security at these events.
"There still are pieces to the puzzle we haven't worked out. There are places where the Secret Service wants to stage security resources that also have been requested by protesters, but we're trying to accommodate everyone."
Doven said Assistant Solicitor Yvonne Schlosberg is talking with the protest groups' legal team, especially Witold "Vic" Walczak, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.
"The bottom line is that the city will be granting almost all the permits on Tuesday," Walczak predicted. "There are two that will be denied."
He said those permits were filed by peace activists with Pittsburgh's Code Pink chapter and environmentalists represented by the Three Rivers' Convergence group, which is acting as an umbrella for dozens of green causes.
Ravenstahl announced two weeks ago the city would grant all eight permits for demonstrations that were submitted at that time.
Walczak said city officials invited him, group organizers and representatives from the Thomas Merton Center in Garfield to meet Tuesday to talk about alternate sites and possible changes to a planned "People's March" Sept. 25 through Downtown streets.
"We were told that on Tuesday we would find out more," Walczak said. "This isn't important only to those who want to peacefully assemble Downtown, but also everyone who lives and works there and who are affected by all of this."
In Washington, Special Agent Darrin Blackford with the Secret Service said security perimeters would be published Tuesday, when maps and other documents showing barriers would be released to news outlets. He said city officials would announce a transportation plan the following week that includes restrictions for traffic patterns and garages near the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, where world leaders will meet.
Blackford said federal authorities likely would forbid some activities that protest groups are contemplating, such as a low-altitude flyover to snap photos of a Sept. 25 march and picnic Downtown.
"We are cautious every step of the way about this," Blackford said. "We have a legal subcommittee, one of 21 subcommittees that have been meeting, and the legal subcommittee has been in step with the others. ... The Secret Service encourages the exercise of everyone's right to demonstrate in a lawful manner."
The Three Rivers' Convergence group plans to demonstrate against the G-20 and the International Coal Conference, scheduled for Sept. 20-23 at the Westin Convention Center. Organizers said they would talk this weekend about sites.
Possibilities are sleeping in Schenley Park or the Hill District's Kennard playground, they said. If the city carries out its intention of banning tents on municipal property after 11 p.m., activists could camp outside town and take buses Downtown.
"No one really knows how many people are coming," said Casey Capitolo, an East Liberty organizer for Three Rivers' Convergence. "Efforts to delay or deny permits, the announcements that trickle out about the large numbers of police and now military personnel — these tactics have been used in the past by other cities to keep people from coming to these kinds of events. All we're asking is that the city change the tone."
Originally posted by ruckus49
reply to post by JIMC5499
what a badass old man you are
Originally posted by Grayelf2009
Well the days of peacful protest are over, they accomplish diddly. Take for instance the recent TeaParty march on the Whore/White House.
I say sourround the G20 area and burn everything and everyone inside the area they have blocked.
Originally posted by SunnyDee
reply to post by JIMC5499
Dude, it's 2 days! If you don't want to stand up for the constitutional right to protest then don't. Just take a different walk to work for 2 days. You live in a famous town that is the heart and soul of what America stands for and all you are worried about is someone throwing something on you? I'm sorry but you sound petty. People are going to protest what they believe in, in front of the most powerful people in the world, they are not traveling across town and country to go pee on your lawn.