Anti-war marchers say police used excessive force
Associated Press | August 23 2005
Organizers of a weekend protest march that turned violent accused city police officers of using excessive force and demanded an independent probe into the incident.
Two police watchdog groups said Monday that at least 11 complaints had been filed against officers patrolling Saturday's march by about 90 people protesting military recruitment in high schools.
March organizers decried the officers' tactics, including the use of a Taser stun gun on one woman. Another woman was bitten by a police dog, organizers said.
"To respond to messages of peace with outright violence is absolutely outrageous," said James Kleisser, executive director of the Thomas Merton Center.
Police said the violence started when a protester struck a freelance photographer working for WPGH-TV, the local Fox affiliate. A melee ensured.
Protest organizers declined on Monday to blame the melee on the protester accused of assaulting the cameraman.
"It was a crowded sidewalk," said David Meieran, a leader of the Pittsburgh Organizing Group, which organized Saturday's march in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh.
Organizers said the incident did not warrant the use of a Taser gun. They called for a moratorium on police use of Taser guns, which discharge 50,000-volt shocks. They also wanted disorderly conduct charges against four adults and a juvenile to be dropped.
The Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board, an independent agency that reviews complaints of police misconduct, was taking complaints, said Elizabeth Pittinger, the board's executive director.
"City police are typically accommodating until something goes wrong and now the determination has to be what went wrong," she said