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Minnesota protest demands decent permit for RNC march

by staff |
July 4, 2008
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St. Paul, MN - More than 100 people marched here July 1, in the fourth and final march in a series of recurring demonstrations to pressure the city of Saint Paul to grant a permit for an anti-war march on Sept. 1, the first day of the Republican National Convention (RNC). The event was organized by the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War.

Protesters, who were surrounded by police, stopped in a busy intersection in front of the Xcel Center. They refused to leave the intersection until the police backed off.

“The permit issued by the city is politically and logistically unacceptable,” says Coalition member Katrina Plotz. “The First Amendment guarantees the right to demonstrate within sight and sound of convention delegates. Police have no right to clear us from the streets by 2:00 when the RNC won’t have started yet. It’s also logistically impossible for tens of thousands to march down a narrow street, turn around in a small area and return to the Capitol along the same street. Even Saint Paul Police Federation president Dave Titus called the city's route ‘a recipe for disaster.’”

“The Saint Paul police department, the city council and the mayor have consistently tried to stall, deny and reroute our efforts to ensure that demonstrators can voice their opposition to the war in Iraq,” explains Coalition member Kim DeFranco. “On July 1, we marched along the route we originally applied for. Afterwards, we delivered a petition to Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman urging him to issue a permit for our planned route. So far, Coleman’s silence can only indicate his support for the war in Iraq and the Republican agenda.”

After the protest Coalition organizers took a 30-foot long petition that had been signed by activists from around the country to Mayor Coleman’s office.

A hearing in federal court regarding the Sept. 1 march route is scheduled for July 9. Coalition members and Saint Paul officials will enter into mediation on July 7 to discuss the dispute.

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