Pittsburgh settles 11 claims tied to mass arrests following '09 G-20 Summit

Jon Campisi Jan. 19, 2012, 8:56am

Nearly half of the plaintiffs who sued the City of Pittsburgh following their arrests tied to the G-20 Summit back in 2009 have agreed to settle with the city, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

The City of Pittsburgh has agreed to pay $88,000 to settle the claims of the 11 individuals who had sued after being swept up in a mass arrest of demonstrators, observers and passersby after the end of the global summit on Sept. 25, 2009, the ACLU-PA said in a news release.

As part of the settlement, the 11 people agree to accept $8,000 each in damages and lawyer’s fees and to have their complaints against the arresting police officers dismissed in court, the ACLU statement says.

The remaining 13 arrestees can move forward with their civil claims. Some of those allegedly suffered physical injuries, such as injuries related to being blasted with pepper spray.

“The city’s settlement offer allows them [the 11 plaintiffs] to move on with their lives but will not impact the claims of the other plaintiffs,” ACLU-PA staff attorney Sara Rose said in a statement.

The news release states that the lawsuits had stemmed from police actions on the final day of the G-20 Summit.

The alleged police brutality took place in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, after hundreds of officers were dispatched to Schenley Plaza to handle rowdy crowds.

The plaza is located on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.

The officers, the news release states, were deployed after learning of plans by protesters to demonstrate against the police department’s use of arrests, tear gas and rubber bullets in the neighborhood during the previous night.

“Without justification, the police ordered people assembled on the plaza to disperse and then funneled them onto the lawn of the Cathedral of Learning, where police surrounded about 100 people and then arrested them for failure to disperse and disorderly conduct,” the release states. “Others were arrested for failure to disperse even though they were blocks away from the plaza.”

The ACLU of Pennsylvania had filed suit on behalf of the injured parties on Sept. 21, 2010, a year after the incident. The civil rights organization argued that police used excessive force during the arrests, “gratuitously squirting people with pepper spray and shooting them with pepper-ball bullets.”

The lawsuit had alleged constitutional and other violations on the part of the defendants.

In addition to the City of Pittsburgh, the defendants included more than 15 Pittsburgh police officers, including the department’s chief and deputy chief.

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