The Thomas Merton Center of Pittsburgh says it will not pay a $6,346.44 bill from the city for police services during a protest march September 25 during the G20 Summit. Several thousand demonstrators took part in the march from Oakland to the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh and then on to the North Side.
Merton Center spokeswoman Melissa Minnich told DUQ that they received the bill from the city Friday itemizing the cost of the work done by police during the march which was organized by the center.
"This was unexpected, we had filled out the forms and were told that (paying for police during) the march and rally should not happen. We've been speaking to the ACLU because back in 2003, the ACLU represented groups that sued the city to overturn a parade ordinance that compelled payment for the same sort of thing....police services."
That suit led to new rules that exempt First Amendment Parades and rallies from charges for police services if the organizer cannot afford to pay. An ACLU spokesman says the march was a free speech action and the Merton Center can't afford to pay the invoice.
A spokesman for the city of Pittsburgh says they've received a notice from the ACLU that they are representing the Merton Center and the city is "reviewing the matter."