Seeds of Peace Collective, et al v. City of Pittsburgh, et al

G-20 protestors harassed by police

Court/Assoc.: US District Court for Western District of Pennsylvania

Attorneys/Firms: Witold Walczak, Sara Rose (ACLU-PA); Michael Healey, Glen Downey (Healey & Hornack); Jules Lobel (Center for Constitutional Rights)

On Sept. 21, 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a complaint , in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on behalf of the Seeds of Peace Collective and the Three Rivers Climate Convergence (3RCC). Seeds of Peace are one of several groups operating buses that will be serving food for 3RCC's "climate camp" and "sustainability fair," political demonstrations that will be held in both Point State Park and Schenley Park throughout the week.

The complaint charges the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police with systematic attempts to harass and discourage lawful First Amendment activities by both organizations, who will be demonstrating against the G-20 Summit. Despite a preliminary injunction ordered by the court last week ordering the City of Pittsburgh to allow 3RCC to hold their demonstration at Point State Park, Pittsburgh police have been engaged in a pattern of illegal searches, vehicle seizures, raids and detentions of Seeds of Peace members.

The complaint alleges that the illegal searches, seizures and harassment constitute retaliation against both 3RCC and Seeds of Peace over their effort to engage in constitutionally-protected political activity in Pittsburgh public spaces, and for 3RCC's lawsuit and victory in getting a federal court injunction ordering the city to allow them to use Point State Park, both of which violate the groups' Constitutional Rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The judge denied the motion for a temporary restraining order.

On December 11, 2009, the ACLU and CCR filed an amended complaint in the case alleging that the police engaged in adeliberate campaignof harassment and intimidation that prevented the two climate and environmental-justice organizations from organizing and supporting demonstrations.

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