Editor’s Note: Follow Rob Eshelman‘s dispatches from the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh at TheNation.com all week.
Tuesday afternoon, US District Court Judge Gary Lancaster rejected a request by the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the Center for Constitutional Rights for an injunction against the Pittsburgh Police. The lawyers alleged in the suit that local law enforcement has been systematically harassing and carrying out unconstitutional searches and seizures of members of two G-20 protest groups–the Seeds of Peace Collective and the Three Rivers Climate Convergence (3RCC). The judge refused to restrain the police and suggested that if police conduct warrants damages claims, then the ACLU should file suit. The ACLU says it will pursue such claims.
“Its hard to believe the City of Pittsburgh is deploying this much firepower against a peaceful group,” Witold Walczak, state director of the ACLU, told The Nation. “If ever there is there is a time to protect demonstrators’ First Amendment rights, it’s this week.”
Despite yesterday’s legal setback, climate change groups such as 3RCC and Greenpeace have continued to occupy a central place among anti-G20 protests in Pittsburgh during the run-up to the summit. The actions of climate change campaigners come at a critical time: climate scientists are issuing ever more dire reports about the pace at which global warming is occurring, and there are now just seventy-four days before the Copenhagen climate talks.
Today, activists from Greenpeace rappelled from Pittsburgh’s iconic West End bridge, hanging an eighty-feet by thirty-feet banner that read: Danger, Climate Destruction Ahead, Reduce CO
Damon Moglen, director of Greenpeace’s Global Warming Campaign, says that the action is an expression of growing public concern over the inaction of the world’s political elites in dealing with greenhouse gas emissions. “Global leaders need to realize that the activist community and the general public are demanding that they take strong positions on climate change.”
Moglen added that it was important to situate the G-20 meeting not only as occurring two months before the Copenhagen conference but also two days after the UN Climate Change Conference in New York City.