City Council provides few details about G-20 arrest investigations

By Lindsay Carroll

City Council thanked public officials and police officers yesterday, devoting little time to… City Council thanked public officials and police officers yesterday, devoting little time to discussing the use of police force in Oakland Thursday and Friday during the G-20 Summit.

Councilman Jim Motznik thanked public safety officers for their “tremendous success.”

“Those people who don’t understand what it means when a police officer tells you to disperse — unfortunately, they learned that,” Motznik, who represents District 4 neighborhoods, including Beechview, Carrick and Overbrook, said.

Over the weekend, District 8 Councilman Bill Peduto — who was at an out-of-state conference during the council’s meeting — told The Pitt News that City Council would address the question of police conduct in Oakland as part of an overall analysis of G-20 planning.

“I assure you that the incidents that occurred both Thursday and Friday will be part of that committee’s work,” Peduto said.

Peduto’s district includes Shadyside and North Oakland.

Councilman District 7 Councilman Patrick Dowd, whose district includes Bloomfield and Lawrenceville, said he was in Lawrenceville when people protested in Arsenal Park.

“We can learn and improve,” Dowd said, “but I want to point out that the police did a fine job — a really fine job — at least in the parts that I saw.”

During the meeting, Council President Doug Shields thanked Gov. Ed Rendell for sending 1,200 state troopers to Pittsburgh during the Summit.

“There are some problems we’re going to have to deal with down the road,” Shields said. “I think we can save those for another day.”

Shields later said that, as president, he holds the responsibility of forming the G-20 analysis committee, which had been previously proposed by Dowd.

Shields said he wanted to wait until the Citizen Police Review Board establishes some facts before looking at the arrests in Oakland. So far, Shields said, the board has received a “significant number” of complaints against officers.

He said there could be lawsuits as a result of the complaints — something the city didn’t buy insurance for because it didn’t expect them to happen.

“In an event like this, you really don’t know what is going to happen,” Shields said.

Before the meeting, two people publicly commented on the events in Oakland.

One man in attendance said the city created “a police state.” He referred to the Long Range Acoustic Device, a device police used to emit messages and high-pitched sounds in Oakland.

“You allowed a ‘Star Wars’ science-fiction machine to be used in the United States for the first time,” he told the Council.

A woman present said the media coverage about the way protesters were treated made Pittsburgh “look bad.” She talked about students who said they didn’t know where to disperse.

“You may think that the Pitt students should have stayed away, but they’re college students, and something exciting was occurring on campus, so they felt they were compelled to watch,” she said.

She said Pittsburgh looked like a scene from “another country.”

“Last week was not a success,” the woman said. “City Council — please launch an investigation into this.”

Noah Levinson also contributed to this article.