Fighting for Free Speech at the G20 in Pittsburgh

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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I was offended by the Pittsburgh police. On the WPXI Pittsburgh website, there is a video of an officer pushing a woman on a bike for no reason. Then, I don't blame her, she got mad and tossed her bike in the air. So they arrested her and the TV station labels the video "Woman Throws Bike" I can clearly NOT see why she had to be provoked and what danger she posed. What the video didn't show, and which I saw on their live TV broadcast at 11:30 pm last night, was another officer going after their TV crew trying to intimidate them, shame on the Pittsburgh police. I hope others saw that other bit of footage.


Having seen Guiliani NYPD just spirit a person off 42nd Street in unmarked van, I am greatly disturbed by YOUTUBE video showing camouflaged military men whisking away a demonstrator at the G20. If the video is true, it needs investigation.


"Today we need a nation of minute men; citizens who are not only prepared to take up arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as a basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom. The cause of liberty, the cause of American, cannot succeed with any lesser effort."
- President John F. Kennedy, January 29, 1961


DR ROBERT HASTY: I cannot accept the use of the "NOISE CANNON" against demonstrators by the Pittsburgh City Police Dept. This is not an irritant! This instrument causes permanent hearing loss. It uses decible levels of 165-185db. In my own research, permanent hearing loss begins at the 85db level. Is causing permanent disabilitylegal in this country?


I was at the protests at Arsenal Park, and then in Oakland when the Police started harassing students.

They're nothing but pigs.

Something had better be done about this. This disgusts me that this happened in my city and my country.


I watch these protesters on TV (regular TV) and it seemed to me they were more trouble being aggresive and throwing things. They acutally have people that feed them? Who pays for that. Sounds pretty organized to me. We have all seen this before at many G20 meetings and the WTO meetings. Seems to me that they are worse than the Tea Party people.

Free Speach my foot. They went there looking for trouble. Covering their faces, too too organized. Sounds to me that the ACLU only helps the roudy people not the peaceful people. Do you know what organization pays the bills for these kinds of demonstrations? I would like to know.


Texas trans corridor .......why can't the American leaders who signed off on this Texas trans corridor deal be arrested under the National Security Act of 1947 and / or the Patriot Act ?


Is the ACLU going to do something about what happened in Oakland after the G20 concluded? Or are they just going to forget about it and "move on" as the Mayor has suggested?


The silence from the ACLU is deafening.

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