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PITTSBURGH City charges protesters $650 for traffic control



Published: Mon, September 30, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



A spokesman said the group will take donations to pay the bill.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Protesting in Pittsburgh will be a little pricey for a group planning an event against former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit Tuesday.

The city has given the Committee for Peace in the Middle East -- a loose group of local student, Muslim and peace organizations -- a $650 bill for two off-duty police officers to direct traffic around their planned protest.

"We're going to pay, but under protest," said Peter Shell, a spokesman for the group.

"We're going to pass a big hat around, ask individuals and organizations to contribute, since we've already spent all of our money on publicity."

"We don't think we should have to pay because we have the constitutional right to speak even if we can't afford it," Shell said.

Officials

City officials said they aren't discriminating against the group since they bill other organizations for traffic control.

Solicitor Jacqueline Morrow said the price is the same the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pirates pay for traffic control.

Protests have followed Netanyahu at other speeches across the country and in Canada.

Earlier this year, Montreal's Concordia University canceled his talk there after protesters rioted, smashed windows and occupied a university building.




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