Pittsburgh, anti-war protesters agree to get along
Lawyers for Pittsburgh and anti-war protesters agreed today to establish sidewalk zones where the month-long demonstrators can sit, sleep and demonstrate without getting more criminal citations.
Since Sept. 1, the Pittsburgh Organizing Group has been protesting nearly around the clock outside an Oakland military recruiting office on Forbes Avenue. They sued the city in federal court Tuesday claiming police have been unduly arresting and hassling them. A hearing for a temporary restraining order scheduled for this morning was not held, because the city and American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the protesters, reached "an agreement in principle."
"We see today as an absolute victory on all accounts. We have our right to protest and get out our message," said protester Patrick Young. "It's disappointing we had to go to federal court to affirm these rights."
The agreement gives the protesters space on two 16-by-5-foot strips of sidewalk on either side of the recruiting office through the end of the month and still allows pedestrians to use the sidewalk without obstructions. In an area next to the road, protesters will be allowed to sit. In the second area, they will be allowed to sit, sleep and keep their belongings.
The agreement covers only the Pittsburgh Organizing Group's protest, and the lawsuit may continue to settle issues regarding protesters' rights on sidewalks, said Witold Walczak, ACLU's legal director.