For G-20, Pittsburgh became a police state

Philadelphia Enquirer, Sept. 30, 2009

Massive Force Routed Cherished Constitutional Values

By Steve Hallock

The world economy may or may not have emerged stronger from last week’s G-20 summit in Pittsburgh. And the first non-capital city to host the summit enjoyed the public-relations boon of showcasing its Phoenix-like rise from the ashes of the steel industry. But the Constitution took a hit.

Government officials decided a massive, preemptive police presence was necessary to avoid the raucous demonstrations that marred past economic summits. They established a virtual police state that quickly extinguished any spark of dissent, and a federal court ruling gave them free rein to do so.

To begin with, there was an oxymoronic requirement that groups get permits to march and demonstrate during the summit. Requiring citizens to obtain permission to gather, let alone speak, violates the spirit of the First Amendment.

But even demonstrators who had permission faced zealous intimidation. It started during the first demonstrations of the week, before the summit commenced. Police delayed one properly credentialed march and denied another group access to a public bypass.

More at The Philadelphia Enquirer

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Steve Hallock is an assistant professor of journalism at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. He can be contacted at shallock@pointpark.edu.

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