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RNC protest organizers meet with Mayor Coleman and city officials

Mayor told: "We want permits to march against the war now!"

by Mick Kelly |
December 27, 2007
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St. Paul, MN - Representatives from the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War meet with the Mayor Coleman, the City Attorney, and other Saint Paul city officials, Dec. 11 at City Hall to press their demands for permits to march on the Republican National Convention and for the city to observe the rights of protesters.

City officials say they want to accommodate protests and freedom of speech at the RNC. Protest organizers responded by saying that the city needs to quit dragging its feet on issuing permits for the massive Iraq war protest that is planed for the first day of the Convention.

Jess Sundin, a representative of the Coalition, told the Mayor, “We don’t want a repeat of Los Angeles, where the Staples Center was hidden by a 10-foot high fence. A ‘protest zone’ ended up being blocked by a twelve-foot fence and 2000 police in riot gear. During a concert inside this zone, police shut off the power supply and forcibly dispersed the crowd, using tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets.” Sundin later added, “We don’t want a repeat of Boston, where protesters were penned in under some train tracks and surrounded by eight-foot high fences topped with razor wire.”

Marie Braun, also from the Coalition recounted past efforts to obtain the permits. “Starting in October 2006, our Coalition has pursued every possible avenue to obtain permits from the city and the State Capitol. We have submitted several permit applications. None have been approved. We participated in town hall meetings, attended City Council meetings, and met with Assistant Chief Bostrom. At every turn, we have been told that we have to wait. At times, we’ve been told this is because existing ordinances don’t allow for early consideration of permit applications. However, the ‘recurring event’ provision would allow the city to act on our applications now, and they have declined to do so.”