Saturday, June 14, 2008

This is not freedom

If a protest is held and the target audience is shielded from it, does it really even matter? If the Democrats really wanted to demonstrate themselves as an alternative to the Republicans, they'd set the example and ditch the whole "free" speech zone concept at their convention. They'd face their protesters, and if nothing else have to listen. Nah, the DemocRATs don't want to do that any more than the ReTHUGs. The precedent goes back to at least 1988 when the Dem National Convention utilized what they called "free speech areas" in order to avoid the potential of actually facing disgruntled potential voters. Here's the latest on the Dem convention (h/t The Try-Works):

Protesters who want to march to the site of the Democratic National Convention will have to end their processions several blocks short of the Pepsi Center, according to the route released Thursday by Denver city officials.

The special parade route, put together by the city to balance the desires of protest groups with the needs of downtown businesses, angered the protesters, who had hoped to be able to end their marches within sight and sound of the convention hall

"This is not an appropriate parade route," said Re-create 68's Glenn Spagnuolo. "I'm not being able to march in front of the event site at the Pepsi Center. That's the target audience. Your political protest is completely ineffective if ... you're not even allowed to march to where your intended audience is."

The route begins at Civic Center park and runs down West Colfax Avenue to the southbound lanes of Speer Boulevard until it reaches Larimer Street and ends. A wide divide separates the end point from the Pepsi Center, which will hold the delegates from 4 to 9 p.m. nightly Aug. 25-28. The U.S. Secret Service, responsible for protecting the convention, has yet to release its security perimeter.

City attorney David Fine said it was possible the end point could change. He said the city is working on pedestrian access from Speer and Larimer to the Pepsi Center's Lot A, where a demonstration zone is to be established.

Colorado American Civil Liberties Union director Mark Silverstein, who has filed a lawsuit on behalf of protest groups, said he was disappointed by the lack of sight and sound access. He said he will meet with his clients to determine their next step.

Tent State University's Denver organizer, Adam Jung, also expressed disappointment, saying he hoped the group could negotiate a change.

In solidarity with Re-create 68 I say, "¡Ya Basta!"

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