What Fresh Hell Is This?

September 23, 2009

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco

. . . this ain't no fooling around

From the P-G:
Witold Walczak, the legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said, "It's hard to imagine a situation where a peaceful group that makes food . . . could attract this much firepower and police attention and not be harassment," he said.

What Walczak is referring to is a pattern of harassment by law enforcement against not only G-20 demonstrators, but those who would support them. And, the summit hasn't even started.

The Pennsylvania branch of the ACLU is documenting "problems G-20 protestors have encountered with law enforcement in Pittsburgh" here and Chris Potter's Slag Heap blog has also been doing yeoman's work on this issue as well.

Unfortunately, a judge has ruled in favor of City (over the people) albeit noting during his ruling:

But, he continued, "To be clear, we are not here to determine if constitutional violations have occurred," Judge Lancaster said.

Further, he said, that that while the complaint does not warrant injunctive relief, the plaintiffs can still seek monetary damages.

This, I'm afraid, will also be another pattern we'll see much of this week. A trampling of rights with the advice to seek redress later -- after the world is no longer watching.


Crossposted at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette G20 site.


Eric Williams said...

We don't agree on much, but I'm with you in seeing this as rather unfortunate.

Michel Sauret said...

As the judge stated in the article, just because they want to defend first amendment rights, it doesn't mean they have the right to violate traffic violations and other laws.

If we are to defend the law, which is what we want with defending the first amendment, we can't do it by compromising the safety of people. Period. You guys know this.

Maria said...


Read the full article.

The judge was specifically not ruling on whether the protesters or police had actually broken laws/violated the Constitution. The judge only ruled that under a time of "heightened security" that he would not give an "immediate injunction against Pittsburgh police."

If the police are using eminent domain as an excuse, this is NOT about "local traffic and zoning laws."

EdHeath said...

You know, this pisses me off to no end. The legal action is to seek injunctive relief because first amendment rights are being trampled, and the judge says he won't even consider first amendment rights. It also appears that the alleged violations of traffic laws are pure fiction. The judge has done serious damage to people who were just trying to provide meals to protestors. In so doing, he has made it clear the judicial system in the area is adopting a zero tolerance policy, which will just encourage the worst elements of the protestors to abandon any restraint they might have shown.

The judge has also shown contempt for the motives of the protestors by suggesting they could seek financial redress later. He should know the protestors opposed to financial greed, that’s why they are here. The rest of us might not mind if the City gets hit with a multi-million dollar lawsuit, but supposedly the protestors would rather have the chance to march than to buy a Lexus.

Heir to the Throne said...

Nothing will happen to the Pittsburgh police.
A Pittsburgh cop assaulted and shot a innocent man and was acquitted.
Man files lawsuit against off-duty cop, city

Maria said...

@Eric: Yes, it's just wrong to anyone who values the First Amendment.

@Ed: I was hoping that I could get through the week without getting really pissed off. I should have known better. Also, interesting point about the appropriateness of the form that the redress may take.

Maria said...

Let it be noted that it's highly unusual for Eric, Ed and Heir to all have the same gut instinct on a story.