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Prosecutor to drop charges against 4 students arrested during G-20 protests

[JURIST] Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. [official website] said Tuesday that charges would be dropped against four University of Pittsburgh [academic website] students arrested during protests [JURIST report] of last week's Pittsburgh Group of 20 (G-20) Summit [official websites; JURIST news archive]. Zappala indicated that some of the students may have been used as pawns [WTAE report] by protesters and those looking to cause damage. Police have also said they are looking into the arrest of reporter Sadie Gurman from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette [media website]. Zappala commented that reporters doing their job should not have been arrested, but they must have obeyed orders from police to disperse. It is believed that 190 people were arrested [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report], 51 of whom were University of Pittsburgh students. There are currently 50 preliminary hearings scheduled for Wednesday at the Municipal Courts Building, and it is expected that there will be more arrests as surveillance videos are reviewed.

Last Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] and other civil liberties groups accused [JURIST report] police of using unnecessary force to disperse demonstrations at the summit. Witold "Vic" Walczak, Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) [advocacy website] said that police deployed throughout the city acted in a manner that prevented lawful demonstrations [AP report], suppressed free speech, and failed to prevent criminal activity. ACLU-PA is collecting complaints about law enforcement activities during protests against the G-20 meeting, and has already filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on behalf of Seeds of Peace and Three Rivers Climate Convergence (3RCC) [advocacy websites] alleging that police violated their constitutional rights. The ACLU is also taking complaints about police conduct [press release] at the university.

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