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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 25, 2009
11:53 AM

CONTACT: National Lawyers Guild

Paige Cram, Communications Coordinator,
communications@nlg.org
, 609-668-0645

NLG Observes Improper Use of Force by Law Enforcement at the G-20

PITTSBURGH, PA - September 25 - National Lawyers Guild members witnessed first-hand yesterday the unwarranted display and use of force by police in residential neighborhoods, often far from any protest activity.

Police deployed chemical irritants, including CS gas, and long-range acoustic devices (LRAD) in residential neighborhoods on narrow streets where families and small children were exposed. Scores of riot police formed barricades at many intersections throughout neighborhoods miles away from the downtown area and the David Lawrence Convention Center. Outside the Courtyard Marriott in Shadyside, police deployed smoke bombs in the absence of protest activity, forcing bystanders and hotel residents to flee the area.

Later, while some protests were ending, riot-clad officers surrounded an area at the University of Pittsburgh, creating an ominous spectacle that some described as akin to Kent State. Guild legal observers witnessed police chasing and arresting many uninvolved students.

Among other questionable tactics, officers from dozens of law enforcement agencies lacked easily-identifiable badges, impeding citizens’ ability to register complaints.

Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, said: “Accountability and chain of command is virtually impossible to establish given the lack of visible individual identifying badges on officers. The small, paper armband badges that law enforcement are wearing are difficult to read, and many wore black chest coverings with absolutely no identifying information. We’ve seen many law enforcement personnel, including Pittsburgh Police Department officers, deliberately covering up the arm IDs by rolling their shirt sleeves up over them.”

 

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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.



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