Turn Over | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Citizen Police Review Board finally has more than 1,000 pages of documents relating to the city's G-20 police procedures ... documents it has been seeking since January.

But it could be worse: One group of demonstrators only just got material they have been demanding since last September. 

Last week, city officials released 1,257 pages of documents to the review board, which investigates complaints of police misconduct. After the board filed a lawsuit to acquire the documents, Judge Stanton Wettick ordered city officials to hand over material in 19 different categories related to the summit, ranging from arrest reports to police rosters, orders and procedures for crowd control and weapon use.

"We're going through [the documents] now to determine if everything is sufficient," says CPRB Executive Director Elizabeth Pittinger. The board is investigating 29 complaints related to the G-20; Pittinger says that police "did make a very strong effort to comply to the judge's order." 

Last month, meanwhile, the city turned over equipment that disappeared from Schenley Park just before the summit opened on Sept. 24, 2009.

The equipment -- tents and apparatus meant for a weeklong "Three Rivers Climate Convergence" focused on environmental issues -- was discovered by the city in a Public Works storage facility around April 15. That's five months after demonstrators sued police and other city officials, alleging they "engaged in harassment, intimidation and actual obstruction to prevent [the] Convergence from taking place. For instance, defendants confiscated 3RCC's supplies and props."

Unlike some other demonstrations that took place during the summit, Convergence organizers had a permit for their activities. They planned to conduct educational activities and demonstrate sustainable-living practices in Schenley Park -- far from the G-20's epicenter Downtown. But on Sept. 22, organizers realized that their equipment had disappeared overnight -- and couldn't get a straight answer about what happened to it. 

In a letter written on the city's behalf, lawyer Paul Krepps of the Downtown firm Marshall, Dennehey, acknowledges that "the property [was] removed by the Public Works Department." Returning it now, he says, was simply the right thing to do -- even as the city continues to fight the lawsuit on technical grounds. 

Protesters aren't satisfied. 

"That's not the full inventory of stuff that they took," says David Meieran, a local Convergence organizer. By his tally, the city also grabbed folding tables, chairs, displays, educational materials and two composting toilets.

More importantly, Meieran says, "Why did we have to sue them for them to finally find the property? It would have been great to have this stuff when the G-20 was in town. ... They shut us down during G-20, and even if they found a tent or two, that doesn't mitigate the fact that they trampled over our Constitutional rights in repressing and destroying the climate camp. People came from all over the country and spent a lot of time and effort to participate in this."

"We called and e-mailed repeatedly during G-20 to get this property and [the city] never responded, though they did respond to some other matters," says Vic Walczak, the ACLU's state legal director and a lawyer in the suit. "Now that the protesters no longer need the props for their protest, the damage is done and [the city] may as well give back the property."

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