Allentown protest faces obstacles

Allentown’s Morning Call
Saturday, March 8, 2003

A demonstration against caps on jury awards for pain and suffering staged in front of U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey's Allentown office Friday morning did not go as planned.
First, the big white bus bearing a blue cutout of the Capitol and a sign blaming high medical malpractice insurance rates "on insurance companies, not injured children" had to be parked in a less conspicuous spot across the street from the private lot at Toomey's building.
Then, the Emmaus mother and brain-injured daughter who were supposed to represent those harmed by such legislation didn't show because of the cold.
And finally, activist Gene Stilp's plan to pull a 15-foot-high wheelchair across Hamilton Street's four lanes to the front of the 2020 Building was thwarted by police concerned about his safety.
"This is so ridiculous," Stilp told reporters. "I saw an 80-year-old woman make it across."
Stilp, a representative for the Center for Justice & Democracy in New York and a nonpracticing lawyer from suburban Harrisburg, said he has been driving the bus thousands of miles and pulling the chair across busier streets than Hamilton Street without threat of arrest. He's been touring since January to promote his cause.
To appease police and not abandon his mission, Stilp and some Lehigh Valley Labor Council representatives walked across Hamilton without the chair and presented a letter to Toomey's district director Morrie Pulley.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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