(bull shit article, but good to see this conservative type of coverage)
Pitt students arrested during G-20 protest may catch break
By Jeremy Boren and Jason Cato
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Police will consider dropping criminal charges against some University of Pittsburgh students who were arrested during a protest that resulted in complaints of police brutality.
Pittsburgh police Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson said Monday police are willing to dismiss charges against Pitt students who prove they innocently ventured too close to the Friday night protest in Schenley Plaza. Police arrested 110 people, including students and journalists covering the Group of 20 economic summit that wrapped up earlier that day.
"There are some kids who truly were just trying to get to another dorm and walked right into the middle of this and found themselves arrested," Pitt police Chief Tim Delaney said. "If they can prove they're innocent, I'll help them out, and the charges will be dismissed."
Delaney said he had not determined how many of the 110 people are students.
Keith Devries, a senior at Pitt, said he was wrongly arrested after shooting documentary footage in Schenley Plaza with a university-owned camera. He said he and others tried to flee in several directions but police corralled them near the Cathedral of Learning.
"Friday night at Schenley Plaza was not a riot. It was barely a protest," said Devries, 23, of North Oakland.
At a news conference with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and other officials, city police Chief Nate Harper said officers gave eight loud warnings for people to disperse, over 15 minutes, before the park's 11 p.m. closing.
"I think, as a group, the police responded admirably," Ravenstahl said.
The city's Office of Municipal Investigations received five complaints against police, Public Safety Director Mike Huss said.
Several people attending a news conference yesterday at the Thomas Merton Center in Garfield complained about police tactics.
Nathan Lanzendorfer, 23, of Mt. Lebanon showed reporters four bruises on the backs of his legs, arm and buttocks. He said they came from being hit by rubber bullets or bean bags police fired.
"They are all on my back, which shows I was not opposing in any way," Lanzendorfer said.
He said he sought treatment at UPMC Presbyterian hospital. "I was peaceful. I did nothing wrong."
Donaldson, who supervised the Oakland police response, said few of the 700 to 800 protesters in or near the plaza complied with police commands to leave until after arrests began.
"At that time, they were not really dispersing, they were eluding prosecution," Donaldson said.
The investigation by OMI — which looks at complaints of misconduct against all city workers — will include scrutiny of the "use of force" reports that officers file when they shoot, strike, spray or do anything to incapacitate a suspect, Donaldson.
Elizabeth Pittinger, director of Pittsburgh's Citizen Police Review Board, said her office received "at least 50 inquiries or pending complaints."
The board hired two consultants who watched how police handled protests. It is compiling a report, Pittinger said.
The review board will hold public meetings to discuss police action during protests and the complaints filed against police. No dates are set.
Though the G-20 summit took place Thursday and Friday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, most arrests occurred in Oakland. On Thursday, police arrested 60 people during demonstrations that caused $50,000 in property damage.
Vandals broke windows of 20 businesses near Pitt's campus, including a Quiznos Sub Shop on South Craig Street.
Jeff Dille, the Quiznos franchise owner, put signs on the cracked windows and plywood replacements that said: "Your business would be very much appreciated to help us pay for the new windows, signs and table replacements. Our insurance doesn't cover riots.