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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Our long international nightmare continues

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 8:22 AM

OK, the latest on the Seeds of Peace saga. Last night, our Marty Levine reports, a Seeds of Peace delivery truck came to deliver food at an anarchist picnic-type gathering in Friendship Park. The bus had "15 police in tow," Levine reports, "and got a ticket for failing to signal while changing lanes." 

The bus driver said police had followed him for three miles: When Levine asked a police lieutenant on the scene if the bus had done something to arouse suspicions, he was told that it was his job "to be suspicious of everyone."

Uh-huh. This is exactly what Vic Walczak has been talking about:

"It's hard to imagine a situation where a peaceful group that makes food ... could attract this much firepower and police attention and not be harassment."
 
As you've probably heard -- and as that Post-Gazette story reports -- judge Gary Lancaster tossed out a suit filed by the ACLU on behalf of Seeds of Peace and other demonstrators. I hope to be posting a copy of the judge's ruling sometime soon. But the gist of it is this: Lancaster is going to let police make dubious arrests now, and defend themselves against civil lawsuits later. 
 
That's usually how it works out, of course. But of course protesters' concern is that Lancaster is giving carte blanche to police to engage in harassing tactics for now -- quelling dissent while the G-20 is actually in town. And then someday, maybe, long after it's too late, police will have to admit they shouldn't have done that stuff. 
 
And again -- this is exactly why many of us urged City Council to be wary of giving police new powers. Walczak actually warned council that giving police added arrest powers was inviting a lot of litigation after the fact. And it looks like that's where we're headed. 
 
UPDATE: On the bright side, apparently Seeds of Peace -- now in their new digs on the North Side -- got through the better part of the night with little trouble from police. Hope you got some rest, folks. 
 
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