ACLU recalls G-20 Summit

By Tegan Hanlon

Nearly one year after the G-20 Summit turned campus upside down, the Greater Pittsburgh Chapter… Nearly one year after the G-20 Summit turned campus upside down, the Greater Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union hosted a discussion on protester rights last night at the Wightman School in Squirrel Hill.

Attorney Glen Downey, who defended a number of students arrested during the summit and “bike girl” Lauren Wasson, led the talk. Much of the conversation proved to be critical of police behavior during the tempestuous two-day event.

An estimated 4,500 people participated in protests during the summit, culminating in nearly $50,000 worth of damage. Police called in from around the nation made more than 200 arrests, many of which are currently still in court, Downey said.

Failure to disperse was the most common offense, though some people were charged with felony offenses.

Many who attended the meeting said they were confused as to how police selected people’s charges and how courts chose their sentences. Others said they felt overwhelmed by the police presence.

Last night, the ACLU discussed strategies that could have made interaction between police and protesters less confrontational.

Downey said that a study conducted in Europe showed that protesters are more likely to clash with police when the police force is decked in full riot gear, as they were some nights surrounding the summit.

Barb Feige, ACLU deputy director, summed up the meeting’s goal.

“The purpose of our discussions is to provide an opportunity for folks to discuss civil liberties topics. Not everyone always agrees, but it provides people with a chance to talk and learn form each other,” she said.

The ACLU’s next discussion will focus on other student rights issues and will take place on Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Beehive Coffeehouse on Carson Street in the South Side.

A press conference will be held later this month at Schenley Plaza concerning a group lawsuit being filed by some people arrested on the Cathedral lawn the Friday of the summit.

City police spokeswoman Diane Richard could not be immediately reached for comment last night.

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