The city of Pittsburgh has agreed to a settle a pair of lawsuits stemming from the actions of police officers before and during the 2009 Pittsburgh G20 summit. The city admitted no wrongdoing in the cases but has agreed to pay out a total of $215,000 to the plaintiffs.
“As I think most often happens when you have a settelment, no party is exstatic and no party is upset but its probably a good resolution for both sides,” said ACLU of Pennsylvania Legal Director Vic Walczak.
The first case involved the use of a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) during a protest in Lawrenceville. Karen Piper alleged she suffered permanent hearing damage from the sound waves emitted by the device while she was trying to leave the area.
The city has agreed to pay Piper $72,000 in that case.
“I am grateful that my case will serve as a deterrent to future users of the LRAD,” said Piper. “The LRAD should have no place on our American streets.”
Walczak said in addition to the monetary damages, the city is required to develop a policy governing LRAD deployment to ensure its careful and controlled use.
“We don’t believe this is a device that should be used as a weapon to suppress protesters,” said Walczak “This is a device that was developed for wartime uses and has been used in the Middle East… but it shouldn’t be used to quell protesters in the United States.”
Seeds of Peace Collective
The second case involves claims made by Seeds of Peace Collective and Three Rivers Climate Convergence. Police allegedly harassed and intimidated Seeds of Peace Collective members before the summit opened by forcing them to move their mobile kitchen, which they had parked on city streets and in one case a private lot.
The group had planned to cook food for the protesters who had gathered in the city. Three Rivers Climate Convergence members were to help with the effort and wanted to get out a pro-environment message. The groups ultimately were able to provide food but not as often as they had hoped. The city agreed to pay $143,000 to settle that case.
“Its not specified, it’s a settlement, so some portion of that $143,000 goes to the clients to compensate them for the violations of their right, and the rest of it will go to the attorneys,” said Walczak.
One other G20-related suit remains unsettled and is headed toward a court date. That case involves individuals who were arrested on and near the University of Pittsburgh campus in Oakland after the summit had officially closed. A suit was filed by the ACLU on behalf of 25 of those arrested. Eleven of the plaintiffs each accepted an $8,000 settlement offer made by the city. One plaintiff withdrew from the case and the other 13 plaintiffs rejected the settlement offer. Their case is pending in US District Court in Pittsburgh.