A federal judge will not stop Pittsburgh police from enforcing the law to placate two groups who say officers repeatedly harassed them as they prepared to protest against the G-20 summit, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. After a hearing yesterday, U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster ruled in favor of the Pittsburgh police, noting the heightened security necessary for G-20.
Lancaster said that just because the groups are in Pittsburgh to help advance free speech “does not give them immunity from local traffic and zoning laws.” Members of Seeds of Peace — a Montana-based group that cooks and provides free meals to demonstrators — have had four run-ins with city police. They have had their bus towed for parking violations; been stopped for loitering while walking to a residence where they were staying; and been forced to move their retrofitted school bus from two spots where they had permission from the property owners to stay. A police officer asked group members how they paid for the food that they cooked and where they got money for fuel. “He kept saying ‘if you provide free food and accept donations, and you’re doing it across state lines, it’s interstate commerce,’ ” said one member.