Lawsuit planned after protesters put on terror list

An activist who believes he was improperly included on a state terror threat list said this morning he is preparing a federal lawsuit.

“When people’s civil rights are trampled it’s a federal issue,” said Gene Stilp of Harrisburg, who holds a Virginia law license but does not practice as an attorney.

Gov. Ed Rendell, speaking Downtown this morning, said he does not believe activists’ Constitutional rights were violated.

The statement was a reversal from what he said yesterday. Asked in Harrisburg on Tuesday whether monitoring activists was “tantamount to trampling” on their Constitutional rights, he said: “I would say so.”

Rendell said he is “deeply embarrassed” by the disclosure that state Homeland Security officials included information about protesters on what was supposed to be a list of possible terrorist threats.

“Being embarrassed doesn’t cut it,” Stilp said.

The list, which included information on public hearings that opponents of Marcellus gas drilling might attend, was sent to drilling companies.

Stilp said he believes he was among those monitored, based on Rendell’s comment that a 25-foot inflatable “pink pig” Stilp takes to rallies was included in the monitoring.

“The pig! They were after the pig,” Rendell said Tuesday. “That pig is what makes Harrisburg a very special place.”

Stilp owns the pig and frequently displays it at the Capitol at protests over what he sees as government excesses.

Stilp said an outside investigation is warranted, by the attorney general or federal authorities.

The state paid a Philadelphia-based nonprofit $125,000 to compile the list as part of the state Homeland Security’s federally mandated mission to protect public infrastructure.

The list included a Washington County meeting that Rendell attended to discuss Marcellus shale gas drilling, a screening of a documentary on the industry, a rally supporting Rendell’s education budget and anti-tax protesters who took an inflatable pig to Harrisburg.

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I wear many hats but history, economics and political observance have always been a passion. I am a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Business with a degree in Information Systems and Digital Business with a minor in European History. I work for a small mom-and-pop IT consulting and software design company. We deal in servicing mostly government funded non-profit mental and behavioral health care agencies in the state of Ohio. In this I deal with Medicaid and Medicare funds and have a little insight on the boondoggles of government there. Thankfully the undemanding nature of my daily profession gives me ample time to read and stay aware of our current state of affairs which I find stranger than fiction in many instances. In addition to being in the IT field, I have also been self employed with a small contracting company so I might know a thing or two about the plight of small business that employs 71% of the American workforce. I however don't draw my knowledge from my day jobs, which I have had a few; I draw it from an intense obsession with facts and observation about the world in which I live. I do have formal education in things such as history, economics and finance particularly as it pertains to global issues, but I have come to find much of what I thought I knew from the formalities of a state university I had to unlearn through much time and independent research. I hope you enjoy what I bring you which is not often heard in the mainstream news outlets. I would like to think my own personal editorializing is not only edifying but thought provoking while not at all obnoxious. That last one may be a hard to achieve.

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