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UPDATE from the NLG
by National Lawyer's Guild
24 Jul 2004
NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD
Massachusetts Chapter, Inc.
14 Beacon St., Suite 407, Boston, MA 02108
tel. 617-227-7335 * fax: 617-227-5495 * nglmass (at) igc.org
Jonathan Shapiro, NLG, 617-742-5800
Jeffrey M. Feuer, NLG, 617-492-8473
Urszula Masny-Latos, NLG, Director of Massachusetts Chapter,
NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD AND THE ACLU APPEAL JUDGE’S DECISION THAT THE
DNC “DEMONSTRATION ZONE” IS A LAWFUL RESTRICTION ON FREE SPEECHAND
Boston, July 23, 2004- The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (“NLG”) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (“ACLUM”) today filed an appeal of the judge’s decision in the federal district court lawsuit brought on behalf of the public and members of the Bl(A)ck Tea Society, United for Peace With Justice and the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights against the City of Boston opposing the City’s unconstitutional attempts to confine and restrict demonstrators at the 2004 Democratic National Convention (“DNC”) to a claustrophobic and unsafe so-called “demonstration zone.” Despite the fact that Judge Woodlock stated that “[o]ne cannot conceive of what other elements you would put in place to make a space more of an affront to the ideal of free expression than the designated demonstration zone,” he ruled that this shocking infringement on plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights was lawful.
Without any evidence whatsoever that there was an actual threat or likelihood of disruption or violence from demonstrators in Boston during the DNC or, indeed, that there has been any recent experience with demonstrations which threatened public safety in Boston, Judge Woodlock ruled that the extraordinary security measures which turned the demonstration zone into what he himself characterized as an “internment camp” were justified on the basis of the mere possibility that some violence by some small number of protestors might occur. The only evidence that the judge cited to support such a possibility was the scattered incidents that have sometimes occurred at other demonstrations, in other cities, at other times, and under different circumstances! The extraordinary limitations placed upon the plaintiffs’ exercise of their First Amendment rights during the upcoming DNC on the basis of the completely speculative threat of disruption in unconstitutional and, we believe, will be overturned as a result of the appeal that we have filed today.