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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