Pittsburgh G-20 Lawsuit Beefed Up

December 16, 2009

The Center for Constitutional Rights has been in the news a lot recently.  Fresh off its big  Acorn victory last week and Monday’s set back when the Supreme Court declined to hear its Guantanamo torture suit, word has spread about its amended lawsuit against the city of Pittsburgh.  CCR had joined with the local chapter of the ACLU in bringing a case on behalf of the Seeds of Peace Collective and the Three Rivers Climate Convergence against the city for its “harassment and intimidation” of G-20 protesters.

The amended complaint was filed late Friday. It accuses city officials of  having “deliberately adopted a strategy to harass, intimidate, discourage and ultimately prevent Three Rivers Climate Convergence and the Seeds of Peace Collective from exercising their constitutionally protected rights to free speech and assembly.”

Citizens enjoy the right to demonstrate and protest on public property. See Hague v. CIO, which ruled that “Wherever the title of streets and parks may rest, they have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions.”

The First Amendment grants the people the right “peaceably to assemble.”  Undoubtedly the defendants will try to claim that the protesters were not acting peacefully. The plaintiffs contend that “The First Amendment does not allow the government to use possible vandalism by a few to justify suppressing the free-speech rights of many…”

Tensions were high before the G-20 Summit, as this July article reveals.  Additional police were brought in as part of summit preparations.

For a real time version of the events from a protester’s perspective, read this post.

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