Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Update 003 -- G-20 Protest Permits Lawsuit -- Federal Court Hearing

[These are my raw notes from the courtroom; they will often consist or keywords and phrases and are not a comprehensive log or transcript.]

1:49 PM Peter Shell of the Thomas Merton Center is called as a witness by ACLU Attorney Vic Walczak.
Shell has been active in Merton Center since 1999. Now co-chair of the anti-war committee of the Thomas Merton Center.
Says its a local social justice non-profit organization dating back to 1972. Mostly volunteers. Says center has sponsored "certainly over a hundred" marches and rallies over the years.

Mailed in permit application July 24th by certified mail. Calling it a "people's march", "money for people, not for war".
Would start with rally at noon at Fifth and Craft in Oakland. A feeder march from Freedom Corner in the Hill District would merge with them, with all arriving at the City County Building.
Had originally requested to march down Grant Street to the Federal Building and rally there.

Shell testifies

Feels G-20 is an "illegitimate organization". Want to go to City County Building to express disapproval of city and county's cooperation with G-20.

Walczak: at issue is third leg of march -- where would go after the City County Building.

Asks about the Buncher parking lot in the Strip District. (The lot is being offered by the city to protesters a place within sight and sound of the convention center.) Shell: No viable route offered by the city to get to the lot.

Walczak: there have been two proposed routes suggested by city -- through Polish Hill from Oakland to get to Buncher lot. Shell testifies it would

Walczak: City also suggested route of Over 7th Street Bridge, down General Robinson Street, back across 16th Street Bridge to Strip? A: Yes, but that would also add 3.8 miles to trip and hills would not be possible for older marches.

Shell: wants to protest in downtown as a center of corporate and government power.

Walczak: asks about protest group's latest proposal.

Shell: they propose to stop on the 7th Street Bridge. Says its better than city's suggestion of North Shore walking and bike trail. He doesn't think it would safely accommodate several thousand people.

2:03 PM: Cross examination of Shell by John Dogherty of the City of Pittsburgh law department.

Q: You've been approved for leg one and leg two of your proposed route? A: Told that, but not seen permit.

You've taken it upon yourself to advertise and promote your event, even though you did not get formal approval? A: Waiting for approval would not have left enough time. Feels was reasonable, based on city's saying it would approve Oakland to Downtown route.

Shell: If we were given a permit to stop and rally on the 7th Street Bridge, they would withdrawl permit request for other routes.

Doughterty: You don't want to march your people into a dead end? A: Yes.
Dougherty asks if North Shore river trail would offer better sight and sound that 7th Street Bridge.
Shell answers that they're concerned about safety of marchers on the river trail (because of the size of the crowd).

Dougherty: You anticipate people taking part in your march who are not part of the Thomas Merton Center? A: Yes. Dougherty suggests there could be a danger posed by those other participants, such as jumping from bridge.

2:13 PM

Next witness: Pittburgh Police Officer Gazarowski (Spelling? The officer was not at the courtroom microphone when she was sworn in. I couldn't hear her first name or the spelling of her last name).
Police bureau's representative on the city's special events committee.
Walczak: past practice when more than one application comes in is to grant the first one in? A: yes.
Officer testifies she was the one who applied for permit for Pittsburgh Police to use Point State Park.

Walczak: Plan is for city police to use the fountain side of the park as a staging area? A: Yes. Q: Don't anticipate it wlll interfere with use of entrance side of park? A: Correct.

Walczak: Permit request from Ferlo that came in August 10th was for one day -- September 23rd, correct? A: Yes.

Officer says she stamped the CodePink permit application as arriving August 24th.
Says 3 Rivers Climate Convergence request also came in on August 24th.

CodePink asked for Sunday to Friday.
Walczak: Ferlo did not ask for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday -- Code Pink asked for those dates first? Officer answers that of the three -- but indicates that Junior Great Race filed first for Sunday.

Walczak: Shows application for Junior Great Race. Officer confirms the permits is for only until 1 PM on Sunday.


Walczak asks about Public Safety Director Huss's reconsideration and approval of Ferlo's Wednesday, September 25th permit request. Officer confirms that she and the city's special events committee did not have a role in approving the Ferlo permit.

Walczak: Asks whether CodePink's permit application and the 3 Rivers Climate Conversion application for Point State Park were ever presented to the city's special events committee. The officer says she personally looked at it, but doesn't recall either way whether she presented them to committee.

Walczak: the process used for Senator Ferlo's permit application was never used for the applications from CodePink or 3 Rivers Climate Conversion? Officer indicates it was not.

Questions now turn to the Thomas Merton Center's march application.

Walczak: The city cannot grant a permit that crosses through the Secret Service security perimeter? Officer answers that is correct.

Q: What is the route that you suggested? A: Fifth Avenue to Smithfield, to Seventh Street Bridge, to North Shore...etc.

2:35 PM

[These are my raw notes from the courtroom; they will often consist or keywords and phrases and are not a comprehensive log or transcript.]

Walczak: There's no outright prohibition to going on the 7th Street Bridge? A: Not to my knowledge.

Officer: Merton Center March might conflict with First Lady's visit to the Warhol... but she says they should be able to accomodate.

Walczak: Asks if any other groups besides G-20 protesters have applied to use city parks overnight? She indicates she doesn't believe so.

Walczak introduces application from February 25, 2009 for an April, 2009 date, from 10 AM to 10 AM in Schenley Park. Estimated participants, 200 to 300.

Officer acknowledges document.

Walczak: Special events committee granted this permit, did it not? Officer: it was reviewed but not issued because group did not pay the fee.

Walczak: Shows document with checkmark by "Status: approved" for overnight use of Schenley Park. Was approved March 31st of this year, is that correct? A: Yes.

2:50 PM Plaintiffs rest. Judge calls ten minute recess.

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