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September 15th, 2010
08:55 AM ET

Governor: State's tracking of protesters 'absolutely ludicrous'

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell says he is appalled that the state's Office of Homeland Security, unbeknownst to him, had been compiling and circulating information about protesters at peaceful gatherings.

Banging his fist on the podium Tuesday evening, a visibly angry Rendell called the practice "absolutely ludicrous."

"Let me make this as clear as I can make it. Protesting against an idea, a principle, a process, is not a real threat against infrastructure," he said at a news conference. "Protesting is a God-given American right, a right that is in our Constitution, a right that is fundamental to all we believe in as Americans."

The governor said he only recently learned that the state homeland security office had been paying a Pennsylvania firm to compile lists of rallies - which were then passed to law enforcement agencies and other entities as possible security threats. The contract cost the state $125,000 and will not be renewed, he said.

"Good Lord, and to think that we spent $125,000 on this at a time when every penny is dire for us is a further embarrassment," he said.

Among the rallies that were mentioned in the lists were a candle light vigil against the oil company BP, a gay pride festival and protests against natural gas drilling.

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Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Mary

    Oh I organized a candle light vigil in Sewickley Pa ( where a lot of the Marcellus Shale executives live). ...I attended the "Gasland" screening in Pittsburgh..and I helped my friend put together and attended the rally in Washington County with Governor Rendell....and I also attended the Pittsburgh council meeting with Doug Shields...I know I must be on that list !!!.....Doug Sheilds called out yesterday for John Powers to be fired...and a full scale probe into how this happened he suggested that an independent investigation be done ...the reason is our Attorney General (who is running for governor) was listed in the Pittsburgh Post gazette as the #1 in receiving funds from Gas companies...Now I would definitely call that a conflict of interest!!! .....Could you please do a story on this and keep them All honest !!!!..I know it's a lot to ask ....I just keep hearing our Founding Fathers screaming..This isn't what we meant !!!!...Thanks Mary !!!

    September 16, 2010 at 5:52 am |