Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lawsuit Over G-20 Protest Permits

The ACLU and groups planning G-20 protests will sue the City of Pittsburgh and the Secret Service in federal court Friday over what they say are denials of permits for their events.

The Thomas Merton Center alleges the city is denying reasonable access to be within "sight and sound" of the G-20 summit for the planned September 25th march from Oakland to Downtown. The city has acknowledged such access is required by court precedent.

Among the end-points for the G-20 protest march vetoed by the secret service, according to ACLU:

• Fort Duquesne Boulevard beteween 6th & 7th Streets

• Liberty Avenue between 10th and Grant Streets.

The Thomas Merton Center's Pete Shell says the Secret Service would allow the march to end at a Strip District parking lot on Smallman Street. Shell says, however, that would require marchers to cross the Allegheny River via the 6th or 7th Street Bridge, walk down east along on the North Side, come back across the river via the 16th Street Bridge, then head back towards town.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Merton Center also say the city suggested ending the march on the North Shore walking trail, across the river from the David Lawrence Convention Center. Protest organizers argue that is not within reasonable sight and sound of the Convention Center.

Among the other groups joining in the lawsuit are Code Pink and 3 Rivers Climate Convergence. They want permits to stage gatherings in Point State Park and to camp in the park overnight.

With the summit just two weeks away, protest organizers are hoping for a quick hearing before a federal judge on their request for a court order.

As I was heading home from work, Mayor Ravenstahl's Press Secretary Joanna Doven sent out word that Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Mike Huss was available to brief the news media about the permits. Channel 4 Action News reporter Jon Griener is covering that right now. Jon e-mails that protesters will have access via the Strip District to parking lots on Smallman Street just across from the convention center. Jon notes that's within shouting distance, indicates the city isn't providing information yet on what march route it would allow. He also tells me that Director Huss is referring media questions about the lawsuit to the city Law Department.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So in addition to the "unpermitted" march on September 24, the Strip folks will also have to deal with a permitted march This is a shameful.