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Rights group sues Pittsburgh for failure to issue G-20 protest permits

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Friday in the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania [official website] claiming that the US Secret Service, the City of Pittsburgh, and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources [official websites] are acting illegally by failing to issue protest permits for the Group of 20 (G-20) [official website] summit scheduled in Pittsburgh [official website] on September 24-25. The ACLU claims that the failure to issue protest permits for certain areas of the City, notably Point State Park, Schenley Park [official websites], East Park, and Riverfront Park to groups including Thomas Merton center [advocacy website], is a violation of the First Amendment right to peaceful protest. In its complaint, the rights group argued for injunctive and declaratory relief claiming that only two protest permits have been issued so far for the G-20, and those two permits were far away from downtown Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl [official profile] said previously that the city has issued eight permits [Chicago Tribune report] so far and may issue more in the future. The City has also announced that it will lease [AP report] a downtown parking lot and two other sites [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report] for the benefit of protesters. A law to ban masks and hoods [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report] was voted down by the City Council last week.

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