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Protesters to Make Pitch Outside Baseball Stadium - 4-13-2002

By Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Correction/Clarification: (Published April 16, 2000) The Industrial Workers of the World organization is one of several groups that participated in protests against the Pirates at PNC Park on March 2 and March 13. In two stories last week, we identified four people arrested in the first of those protests as members of that organization. Not all of them are.

A group of protesters criticizing the Pittsburgh Pirates can hand out fliers outside PNC Park today after the team, the Sports & Exhibition Authority and the American Civil Liberties Union settled part of a lawsuit yesterday.

The parties were scheduled for a hearing yesterday morning before U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster but reached an agreement before going into court.

On Tuesday, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit asking Lancaster for an injunction against the city of Pittsburgh and the city-county sports authority to ensure that the protesters wouldn't be arrested if they show up at the stadium today during the Pirates' 1:35 p.m. game.

Four members of the Industrial Workers of the World activist organization were arrested March 2 inside the Pirate Gear Shop after handing out fliers attacking the team for selling merchandise they say is made in Third World sweatshops.

The agreement prohibits protesters from occupying areas around the ballpark's ticketing areas, gates and an eating area. But they can distribute leaflets in other areas, including sidewalks outside the stadium.

City Solicitor Jacqueline Morrow said the city refused to take part in the settlement because officials feel the city should not have been named in the suit.

The settlement covers portions of the sidewalks that are owned by the sports authority and leased by the Pirates. Morrow said protesters can also occupy city-owned sidewalks as long as they don't block traffic.

Although the ACLU dropped its injunction request, the underlying lawsuit is still pending. Morrow said the ACLU is asking that the city and sports authority pay its legal fees.

The details of the March 2 arrests are still in question. The ACLU said the four were arrested inside the shop after they had been warned earlier to stop protesting on public sidewalks outside the stadium. But the city and the Pirates said they were arrested because they were protesting inside the Pirate Gear Shop and refused to leave. Two police officers were in court to testify yesterday but didn't get the chance.