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MN protest leaders demand permits now

Anti-war demonstrations set for Republican National Convention

by Mick Kelly |
April 23, 2007
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St. Paul, MN - Anti-war activists confronted police officials here, April 20, resubmitting permit applications for demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. In addition to resubmitting the permit applications, Jess Sundin of the Twin Cites-based Anti-War Committee delivered officials a letter challenging their contention that no permits will be considered until six months before to the RNC.

The letter states, “A great deal of city resources are being devoted to hosting the Republican National Convention and this work is well underway. Again, failing to consider permit applications for demonstrations outside the RNC can only be understood as discrimination based on speech content.”

Since the announcement that the 2008 Republican Convention would take place in St. Paul, Twin Cities anti-war organizations and others have been making plans to hold protests against the U.S. war on Iraq. Permit applications and payments were submitted in October 2006, but returned by St. Paul police in March. Activists say it is more important than ever for St. Paul police to take immediate action granting permits to local groups organizing large, legal protests.

Activists are angered by a recent announcement by Ramsey County Sheriff Bill Fletcher. Fletcher calculated that he will need a budget of $4.4 million to handle the detention of as many as 3000 protesters during the RNC. “If Fletcher wants to spend $4.4 million to jail us, his colleagues should spend 4.4 seconds signing these applications so we can move ahead with our plans for a large, legal protest against the war in Iraq,” said Sundin.

She continued, “Bush is waging a terrible war on the Iraqi people. Failing to approve our permits in a timely manner only serves to suppress organizing efforts against the war. City government is putting immense resources into hosting the RNC. They should put their efforts into accommodating protesters, not just jailing us. We want permits to demonstrate at the RNC in 2008. But permits or not, we will speak out against the war in Iraq, when we take to the streets of St. Paul Sept. 1-4, 2008.”