Blog of Rights

Fighting for Free Speech at the G20 in Pittsburgh

By Sara Mullen, ACLU of Pennsylvania at 4:59pm

After the ACLU of Pennsylvania successfully sued last week to force the city of Pittsburgh to allow several groups to hold demonstrations around the G20 Summit, it seemed that free speech would prevail in the Steel City.

Unfortunately, this has not proven to be the case. Following the court ruling, the Pittsburgh police department has engaged in a pattern of harassment of G20 demonstrators, singling out the Seeds of Peace Collective, one of several groups providing food support to the protestors.

The police have repeatedly tried to intimidate members of the collective, citing them with minor traffic violations, illegally searching their bus, towing their legally parked bus, detaining and charging members walking home with loitering, repeatedly demanding identification, and pressuring private property owners to rescind their permission for the collective to park its bus.

Despite evidence of systematic harassment, a federal judge refused to grant a temporary injunction to stop the harassment in a second lawsuit.

The ACLU-PA is collecting reports of violations of protestors’ rights at the G20 and publishing them on our Web site. Anyone witnessing a violation is encouraged to call the ACLU G20 hotline at (412) 562-5015.

The ACLU-PA and the National Lawyers Guild have dispatched over 150 legal observers to monitor law enforcement’s treatment of the protestors throughout the week.

More information about the ACLU and the G20 is available here.

Check out The New York Times blog post about the G20 protests, which includes a video featuring an interview with ACLU-PA Legal Director Vic Walczak.

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