For Immediate Release
Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director, 917-239-4999
Paige Cram, Communications Coordinator, 212-679-5100, ext. 15
National Lawyers Guild to Send Legal Observers to Monitor Law Enforcement at G-20 Summit Protests in Pittsburgh
City’s Unique Layout, and Presence of 2,000 National Guard Soldiers and 4,000 Officers Pose Potential Risk of Injury to Protesters
NEW YORK - The National Lawyers Guild is sending trained legal observers to the G-20 Summit protests in Pittsburgh from September 22-26, 2009, where thousands are expected to converge to protest financial mismanagement that led to the global meltdown and resulting job cuts and poverty. Established over 40 years ago, the Guild's legal observing program provides lawyers and law students to monitor incidents of police misconduct and infringements on the right to engage in lawful protest. Guild observers at previous National Special Security Events have provided a presence to assure protesters that unlawful police practices will not go unchallenged, and to gather information for possible litigation.
Pittsburgh's particular layout, including 446 bridges, promises to complicate enforcement of a security perimeter and may exacerbate a trend that the Guild has documented of law enforcement overreaction to individuals trying to exercise their First Amendment right to assembly.
Executive Director Heidi Boghosian says, "The dual threat in Pittsburgh is its intricate city layout and the extraordinary level of militarized law enforcement accompanying a so-called ‘National Special Security Event.' Access to the downtown area near the David Lawrence Convention Center is already congested-adding 2,000 National Guard soldiers to the 4,000-officer police force increases the chance that protesters will suffer injury from law enforcement and military. Add the use of less-lethal munitions, horses, motorcycles, and it's a recipe for disaster. We must avoid a repeat of the April 2009 G-20 in London, and the 2001 G-8 in Genoa, each of which resulted in the death of a protester."
The National Lawyers Guild is dedicated to the need for basic and progressive change in the structure of our political and economic system. Through its members--lawyers, law students, jailhouse lawyers and legal workers united in chapters and committees--the Guild works locally, nationally and internationally as an effective political and social force in the service of the people.