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Federal judge orders Pittsburgh to grant permit for G-20 'tent city' demonstration

[JURIST] A judge in the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania [official website] ruled Thursday that the City of Pittsburgh [official website] must allow a tent city protest during next week's Group of 20 (G-20) [official website] summit [official website], but that it could deny permits to two other groups. In response to a lawsuit [JURIST report] brought last week by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy websites], Judge Gary Lancaster ruled [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report] that the city must issue a permit to CodePink [advocacy website] to set up a tent city in Point State Park [official website] in the days before the summit. Lancaster also ruled that the city could deny permits to the Thomas Merton Center [advocacy website] to hold a march through downtown and rally on a bridge and to other groups wishing to camp overnight in Schenley Park [official website]. CCR Vice President and University of Pittsburgh School of Law professor Jules Lobel said [press release]:

We regret the judge did not see eye-to-eye with us in allowing the groups to camp and rally. ... It is a still a great victory, however, that CodePink and Three Rivers Climate Convergence will be able to erect a symbolic tent city in the main park in downtown Pittsburgh and be heard during the G-20.

Since the suit was filed, the city granted permits [NYT report] to three of the original plaintiffs - the G6 Billion group and Bail Out the People, seeking to hold marches, and a group of artists seeking to use a city park.

Earlier this week, the Pittsburgh City Council [official website] passed [JURIST report] an ordinance [text, PDF] in anticipation of the G-20 summit that will allow police to cite people in possession of certain items if they intend to use them unlawfully. The temporary ordinance, passed in anticipation of protests at the summit scheduled for September 24 and 25, expires at the end of the month. It prohibits the possession of tools or other items such as handcuffs, padlocks, and pipes with an intent to use those items to block access to streets, sidewalks, and public buildings or to defeat crowd control orders. A proposal to ban masks and hoods [text, PDF] during the summit was voted down [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report] by the City Council last week.

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