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G-20 protest groups file suit alleging Pittsburgh police violating rights

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy websites] filed suit [complaint, PDF] Monday on behalf of two groups protesting this week's Group of 20 (G-20) Summit [official websites] in Pittsburgh, alleging that police have violated their Constitutional rights. Seeds of Peace and Three Rivers Climate Convergence (3RCC) [advocacy websites] claim that police searched and seized members of the groups and their property in violation of the Fourth Amendment [text] and that police retaliated against members for exercising their right to free speech under the First Amendment [text]. Seeds of Peace claims that police detained their bus without cause, illegally searched and impounded the bus, and also conducted a warrantless raid on the property on which the bus was being stored. A hearing was held Tuesday in front of Judge Gary Lancaster of the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania [official website].

Last week, Lancaster ruled [JURIST report] that the city of Pittsburgh must grant a permit allowing CodePink [advocacy website] to set up a tent city in a park days before the summit, but allowed the city to deny permits to two other protest groups. Earlier that 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 earlier this month.

3:50 PM - Lancaster has declined to issue an injunction [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report] against the police actions. The groups may still seek monetary damages, as there was no ruling as to whether Constitutional violations occurred.

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