For Immediate Release
Rights Groups Sue Authorities for First Amendment Violations in Advance of G-20 Summit
Attorneys Call Denial of Permits to Activist Groups Bogus
PITTSBURGH, PA - Today, the Center
for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) filed
a complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of
Pennsylvania on behalf of groups seeking to hold peaceful demonstrations in
downtown Pittsburgh where the Group of 20 summit (G-20) will take place later
this month. The complaint charges 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 groups' constitutional rights to free speech.
The plaintiffs include: CODEPINK; Pittsburgh Women For Peace; 3 Rivers Climate Convergence; Thomas Merton
Center; Pittsburgh Outdoor Artists; Bail Out The
People and G-6 Billion.
The complaint was filed after repeated efforts to negotiate with the city
regarding the permits.
"The City is unjustified in denying permits to these peaceful
protestors," said CCR Vice President
Jules Lobel. "We hope the court will uphold and protect the
core American values of free speech and the right to dissent."
"Despite working in good faith for weeks to resolve G-20
demonstration permits with the City of Pittsburgh
and federal officials, demonstration organizers can wait no longer and will now
pursue permit remedies in Federal Court," said ACLU-PA Legal Director Witold "Vic" Walczak.
"This is a struggle for our First Amendment rights," said Francine Porter, CODEPINK Pittsburgh
Coordinator. "Refusing these permits takes away our right to
educate the public about the G-20 agenda and how it relates to war, war funding
and war's impact across the globe on mostly women and children."
"The G-20 is gathering in the midst of a worldwide economic
crisis," said Molly Rush, co-founder of
the Thomas Merton
Center in Pittsburgh. "Unrestrained profit-making
by financial institutions and the deregulation and privatization of public
resources have led to disaster for the vast majority of the world's
people. Yet the people lack a voice in the proceedings."
The complaint alleges violations of the Constitution based on the
following actions by the defendants: 1) refusal to issue permits to
demonstrators for the use of Point State Park during the week of the G-20; 2)
failure to issue permits for First-Amendment-protected activities in
Pittsburgh's downtown; 3) refusal to issue a permit for a march by the
Thomas Merton Center within a reasonable distance from the Convention Center on
one day during the summit; and 4) refusal to allow demonstrators permission to
stay overnight in several Pittsburgh parks.
To read the full complaint, click
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit,
nonpartisan, membership organization dedicated to defending and expanding
individual rights and personal freedoms throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania. Visit www.aclupa.org.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.