Thursday, September 17, 2009

G 20 Summit: Judge Decides for Rights Groups

Free Speech Victory for Rights Groups in Advance of G-20 Summit

Judge Rules Activists Can Demonstrate in Downtown Park
September 17, 2009, Pittsburgh, PA

Today, United States District Judge Gary L. Lancaster ruled on a suit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) on behalf of groups seeking to hold peaceful demonstrations in downtown Pittsburgh where the Group of 20 Summit (G-20) will take place next week. In his decision, the judge said CodePink, one of the activist groups represented, will be allowed to use Point State Park, centrally located in downtown Pittsburgh, for several days preceding the G-20. The judge ruled, however, that the city was within its rights to deny camping permits and a permit for a rally on a bridge, which were the two other requests in the complaint filed by the plaintiffs’ attorneys last week.

“We regret the judge did not see eye-to-eye with us in allowing the groups to camp and rally,” said CCR Vice President Jules Lobel. “It is a still a great victory, however, that CodePink and Three Rivers Climate Convergence will be able to erect a symbolic tent city in the main park in downtown Pittsburgh and be heard during the G-20.”

The complaint, filed after repeated efforts to negotiate with the city regarding the permits, charged the U.S. Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the City of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources with violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to free speech. The plaintiffs included: CodePink; Pittsburgh Women for Peace; 3 Rivers Climate Convergence; Thomas Merton Center; Pittsburgh Outdoor Artists; Bail Out The People and G-6 Billion.

To read the full complaint, click here.

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