Mayor Luke Ravenstahl this morning introduced G-20 specific legislation to City Council aiming to keep Pittsburgh residents, workers and visitors safe and sound during the G-20 summit.
"I want to thank members of City Council in advance for their support in ensuring that Pittsburgh is ready to welcome the world for the G-20 summit," Ravenstahl said. "I urge members to engage in thoughtful dialogue which focuses on the need to protect our City and keep our residents and visitors safe and sound."
Of the six pieces of legislation, three are public safety ordinances that will allow the City to hire additional police officers, and prohibit the use of obstructive equipment and masks only if individuals use these materials to conduct illegal activity. Under the proposed ordinances, an individual may wear a mask and carry materials to protest, however once an individual seeks to do harm with such materials, officers are able to remove the individual from the area.
"We know that most of the individuals protesting during the G-20 will be peaceful and lawful," Public Safety Director Michael Huss said. "However, we know that there will be some individuals who will seek to do harm to our City and this ordinance will allow our officers to target the bad apples' only."
The proposed legislation is based on a combination of ordinances that were enacted in the cities of Denver and Philadelphia, respectively, in advance of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
"We took careful and thoughtful consideration in making sure that these ordinances strike a fair balance in allowing demonstrators to use objects to get their points across, while stopping those individuals who may use them to incite panic and harm," Ravenstahl said.
The other legislation includes two finance resolutions that will allow the City to draw from the G-20 funds received by the federal and state governments for needed equipment, supplies and insurance for officers. Lastly, the Mayor introduced an ordinance that will allow G-20 temporary event signage which will welcome visitors in commercial business districts.
"Since it was announced that Pittsburgh was chosen to host the world, we've been working tirelessly on making sure that our officers have the equipment and tools to get the job done and keep our City safe," Ravenstahl said. "News that the White House and state have stepped up to fill the funding gap will ensure that our City has the necessary resources to host a successful summit."
The Mayor also disclosed that the City has conditionally approved all seven permit requests related to the G-20. The City law department today sent certified letters to the applicants stating the conditions, and will seek to meet with them to find common ground. Examples of the conditions include: allowing marches, but understanding that the final destination cannot be determined until the security perimeter is defined; and allowing "tent cities" in City parks with the understanding that individuals must be out of the park by 11 p.m. as per City law.
"Our goal is to meet with all of these groups to ensure that they have the best locations possible to have their voices heard," Ravenstahl said. "Additionally, we will make available two designated protest locations that are within sight and sound of the Convention Center. We are working hard on defining this area so that groups have plenty of time to organize."
Note: It has been reported that the City has received eight permit applications, however, one applicant under the name of "Bail Out The People" withdrew a permit last night.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
512 City County Building | 414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
telephone: 412-255-2626 | facsimile: 412-255-2687