ACLU sues Pittsburgh, Secret Service over G20 protest permits

From Raw Story:

A US rights group is suing the city of Pittsburgh and the US Secret Service on behalf of activists seeking to protest the upcoming G-20 summit to be held here September 24 and 25.

“After a month of negotiation with the city and the Secret Service, we have come to an impasse and today we filed a lawsuit in the US district court,” said Witold Walczak, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The group filed the suit on behalf of six groups, including pacifist organization Code Pink and the environmental group Three Rivers Climate Convergence.

“We’ve been very patient. We simply can’t wait any longer,” Walczak told AFP, adding that 13 requests for demonstration permits had been submitted to municipal authorities, but only two were approved, for dates before the summit.

Local authorities said they had preapproved eight requests.

The activists, who say in the lawsuit that they “represent thousands of people who oppose the undemocratic way in which the G20 operates” want permission use parks in the city as camping space for visiting protestors and the green light for a protest that would pass close to the conference center where heads of state are meeting.

“The plaintiffs seek to engage in peaceful, constitutionally protected expressive activities during the upcoming G20 summit in Pittsburgh,” the lawsuit says.

Jules Lobel of the Center for Constitutional Rights offered support for the filing.

“The first amendment prohibits the government from deciding to allow or not certain people to speak whether they have different messages. The government can’t dictate who speaks their message.”

The court is expected to deliver a ruling on the case at the beginning of next week.

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