Monday, September 28, 2009

Police Respond to Some Complaints

Pittsburgh public safety officials say they are pleased with the way officers performed last week related to the G20. Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Michael Huss says in total, there were 3,078 officers on duty in the city last week from federal and local agencies across the country. When asked if that was a bit over kill Huss answered that all estimates leading up to the event were that there would be more protesters and, “I liked [the officer’s’] odds.” A total of 188 G20 related arrests were made and 6 people remained in custody Monday at noon. Pittsburgh Assistant Police Chief Paul Donaldson responded to several questions about how police responded to rallies in Oakland Thursday and Friday where all but 19 of the arrests were made.
When asked why protesters were forced to leave Schenley Plaza before 11:00pm Thursday Donaldson, who gave the order to disperse, says he was concerned by the size of the crowd and the safety of the dignitaries at Phipps. When asked the same question about Friday he said they had intended to allow the protesters to stay in the park until 11:00pm but ordered them to leave at 10:42 because he felt conditions in the park had deteriorated and the crowd needed to be broken up. He said police also wanted to prevent the problems seen Thursday night. He was also asked about claims by Pitt students that they were swept up in the crowd Thursday night and arrested. Donaldson answered saying he was reviewing those arrests and would drop charges where he felt it was appropriate but he says he is not sure how that could happen. He says an order to disperse was given and the crowd moved from the park across Forbes Ave. The order was given again 15 minutes later and the crowd did not respond until officers began making arrests. He says those running away then, “Were not dispersing as much as they were trying to avoid arrest.”
5 complaints have been field with the Pittsburgh Office of Municipal Investigations related to the police actions in Oakland. When Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper was asked about civilian video posted to the internet that shows police in riot gear appearing to force a handcuffed suspect to kneel before a line of officers while another officer took a picture, he said he was aware of the video but did not know who took the picture or why and he is not investigating the incident because there are more important things to investigate such as homicides. Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl says every aspect of the city’s response to the G20 will be evaluated and he encouraged anyone with a complaint to file it with the proper authority.

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