PITTSBURGH, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Protests at the G20 economic summit turned violent at times Thursday with demonstrators throwing rocks and police firing rubber bullets, Pittsburgh police said.
Police used pepper spray and smoke canisters to break up a march in downtown Pittsburgh but some of the marchers began throwing rocks and police responded by firing rubber bullets, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. In a separate incident, police used gas canisters to disperse a crowd estimated at 500 -- many of them said to be curious onlookers -- near Phipps Conservatory, where heads of state were to have dinner, the newspaper said.
Vic Walczak, legal director for the local ACLU, said the crowd was peaceful and even moved when a police car needed to pass through.
"I don't think this is an unlawful assembly," he said.
The two-day summit began Thursday.
Fourteen Greenpeace activists were arrested Wednesday trying to scale city bridges. A Greenpeace spokesman said the activists were trying to send a "message to the leaders of the G20," the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
The arrests occurred after eight people rappelled from a bridge and unfurled a banner reading: "Danger. Climate Destruction Ahead. Reduce CO2 Emissions Now." Police said they also detained five people trying to hang a banner from the Fort Pitt Bridge.
Groups this week have protested Group of 20 economic policies, President Barack Obama's administration, a coal conference and other issues, the Tribune-Review reported.
To deal with an expected high number of demonstrators and protect security perimeters in Pittsburgh's downtown area, the city hired out-of-state officers and brought in several thousand state police troopers and Pennsylvania National Guard troops.