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News :: DNC : DNC : Environment : Human Rights : Organizing
An affront to free expression
26 Jul 2004
July 26, 2004
An affront to free expression

The Democratic National Convention begins today in Boston. It will feature speakers ranging from John Kerry to Ben Affleck to — my personal favorite — Barack Obama. Inside the convention center Democrats will rail against the incumbent, speak about Iraq, speak about security, speak about abortion and speak about civil liberties.

Outsde the convention — more than a block away from the convention, in fact — others will be speaking about Iraq, about security, about abortion and civil liberties. They will be in a fenced-in space under a "maze of overhead netting, chain link fencing and razor wire" guarded by police in riot gear carrying rifles. Military police in camaflouge fatigues wearing sidearms and with M-16s in easy reach will not be far away. Police, FBI and Secret Service helicopters will be orbiting overhead. "To avoid hitting girders, tall protestors will have to duck," ABC News writes.

This is a Free Speech Zone. Some protestors call it a "detention center" and a "concentration camp".

United States District Judge Douglas Woodlock, ruling on a lawsuit brought by protest leaders, called the area "an affront to free expression" and a "festing boil" on the face of our democracy. Yet the honorable Woodlock refused to order police to allow protest elsewhere, ordering them only to allow protestors to march by the convention to make their voices heard.

When the founding fathers wrote the First Amendment — allowing for the citizenry to freely petition government for a redress of their grievances — they surely did not intend for those petitioning to be placed in a caged area topped by razor wire.

In New York City the Republican National Convention will bring many more protestors than its Democratic counterpart. Estimates today by both police and organizers are already topping 250,000. Originally protest organizers such as United for Peace and Justice asked New York's Mayor Bloomberg for permission to stage a massive rally on Central Park's Great Lawn.

The mayor's office declined the request, stating that such a massive protest would irrevocably harm the grass on the Great Lawn. But the New York Times reports today that a "horticultural expert who worked on refurbishing the lawn" states that "it was designed to withstand the abuse of large crowds since the grass was planted in a special soil mix so that it could take the weight and traffic without reverting to the great dust bowl it had once been."

In fact many events take place on the Great Lawn ever year. I have attended many events on the Great Lawn that have drawn a great many people. But the mayor's office said no.

The 250,000 protestors needed to go somewhere, however. The police chief suggested the West Side Highway. Reluctantly, protest leaders agreed.

Protestors will be stuck on the far West Side of Manhattan. The RNC site — Madison Square Garden — is on eighth avenue. The West Side Highway is past eleventh avenue, in what would be the heart of an industrial waste land if not for the Hudson River directly along its west side. The West Side Highway, in fact, is as far west of Madison Square Garden as you can get without ending up in either the Hudson River or New Jersey.

Once the 250,000 protestors get on the West Side Highway they will be caged in by steel barricades. They will be surrounded by some police in riot gear and others in full SWAT combat gear. These officers in SWAT gear will be carrying fully automatic rifles. They are members of the NYPD's famous Hercules Teams. These teams show up randomly throughout the city — in Times Square, in Rockefeller Center, in the Financial District, at Columbus Circle — and stand around in helmets and flak jackets, carressing their rifles.

The protestors, thus boxed in, will not at any point be in view of Republican deligates to the Convention. Reporters will have to, if they choose, go far out of their way to see the protestors. President Bush will never have to worry his pretty head about the 250,000 Americans who have turned out to petition him for a redress of grievances.

And, once again, America will have to endure an "open sore" and a "festering boil".
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Why are you talking about new york?
26 Jul 2004
i think all those planning on going to the RNC protest are confused... it's here that they need to be. If we can get a real candidate of the people nominated here, then we won't need to protest the RNC. Bush is so easy to beat, we just need a real American to vote for- not another millionaire that will send the poor to die for lies.

tell your friends to take the next few days of- be spontaneous- and come to boston- demand real change
Re: An affront to free expression
27 Jul 2004
boston is now: i believe this article discusses BOTH conventions. Please re-read.

JUST nominating Kerry is not the end. Yes, you, they, all... will need to PROTEST the RNC too. Don't be lulled into thinking Bush is "easy to beat."

PLUS, this Bush-whacker needs a good demo to addle his boots ! Muck the saddle !
Re: An affront to free expression
27 Jul 2004
"""They will be in a fenced-in space under a "maze of overhead netting, chain link fencing and razor wire" guarded by police in riot gear carrying rifles. Military police in camaflouge fatigues wearing sidearms and with M-16s in easy reach will not be far away."""
That's just UnAmerican.

"""This is a Free Speech Zone. Some protestors call it a "detention center" and a "concentration camp""

Translation. That means the rest of the area is a NO SPEECH ZONE. This is unaccpetable.

I'm an independent who leans libertarian. I voted for Bush I(Regret it), Perot, and Harry Browne twice.

John Kerry and George Bush will never get my vote. The last time I went for lesser of two evils, I got a gun ban, tax increase, and a war we didn't need to be in(Persian Gulf I).

I can not vote for anyone who backed the Patriot ACT, voted for NAFTA and GATT, is opposed to free speech, puts us in wars we don't belong in, and voted for gun bans.

The only one in the two major parties worth anything is RON PAUL.

He's not running though. I'll be voting for Michael Badnarik.
07 Oct 2005