2009-09-17 / Local & State

Pittsburgh, Secret Service Sued Over G-20 Permits


PITTSBURGH (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union sued Pittsburgh, the Secret Service and a state agency on Friday, claiming they are violating the civil rights of people seeking to protest the Group of 20 global economic summit.

Protesters have claimed the city is stalling in issuing permits they need to demonstrate during the summit on Sept. 24 and Sept. 25. On Friday, protesters said they had waited too long and had no choice but to get the court to force the agencies to issue the permits.

The ACLU's lawsuit was filed on behalf of six groups that want to be allowed to hold a demonstration less than a mile from the summit site on Sept. 25. They also want to build "tent cities'' in four parks, an idea city officials have already rejected.

The lawsuit says Pittsburgh and the Secret Service have "unduly restricted or failed to recognize'' the right of "peace, social justice and environmental justice organizations'' to "peaceably demonstrate in traditional public forums.''

Thousands of protesters often accompany global summits such as the G-20, opposing policies they feel harm everything from the environment to the poor.

City officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the lawsuit. Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Mike Huss has said the city is reviewing all the protesters' requests and has already issued some preliminary permits.

On Thursday, the city announced it had leased a parking lot not far from the convention center where the summit is being held to accommodate the protesters.

Nearly two dozen world leaders who control about 85 percent of the money in the world are attending the summit as part of a global effort to deal with the economic crisis crippling markets.

The Secret Service recently announced a security perimeter that encompasses approximately a three-block radius around the convention center where the summit will be held. Some of the areas closest to the center are restricted to traffic.

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