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Court strategy planned for 'People's March' permits during G-20
NewsCourt strategy planned for 'People's March' permits during G-20

Leaders from more than 40 local and national protest groups vowed to pack a federal courtroom and Pittsburgh City Council chambers today to send a message that they'll fight for the right to demonstrate Downtown during the Group of 20 economic summit.

They met Tuesday night in East Liberty Presbyterian Church on the eve of the hearings, which will determine whether protesters can camp in parks, erect "tent cities" in Point State Park or rally at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, where the summit will take place.

Organizers hope to lead tens of thousands of demonstrators focusing on anti-war, environmental, labor and other causes. From Oakland, they will proceed to the City-County Building and then to the Convention Center on Sept. 25, the final day of the G-20 meetings.

The United Steelworkers yesterday pledged to support the "People's March" by walking in solidarity with local activists. Tibetan monks plan to walk many near the front of the crowd as a show of peaceful protest.

"We've already said that our march is going to be peaceful," said Pete Shell, director of the anti-war committee of Thomas Merton Center in Garfield. "The lawsuit is to ensure that it's legal, too."

The groups seeking permits to rally Downtown filed a federal lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.

Activists at both the Washington-based March 4 Freedom Coalition and the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia told the Tribune-Review that they would join the protest against G-20 policies that they say have propped up the administration of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. A simultaneous protest is planned outside the Capitol in Washington.

Ethiopia's ruler since 1991, Zenawi has been a staunch supporter of U.S.-backed counterterrorism operations in Somalia. On Sept. 9, Zenawi broke a promise that he would step down for elections in 2010 and instead will run for another five-year term, according to activists.

"The U.S. taxpayers are paying money to a regime that is used to terrorize its own citizens," said Solidarity Movement Executive Director Obang Metho. "The people in the G-20 come from democracies. They should not deal with an Ethiopian regime that was not legally elected."

The Ethiopian Embassy in Washington did not return calls seeking comment.

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