Monday, July 14, 2008

Double-fencing for DNC protesters

If you're quiet, you can hear R!68 scream:
The designated protest zone at the Democratic National Convention will be surrounded by two fences, placed eight feet apart, that will create a buffer between protesters inside the first fence and people outside, such as delegates.

In documents filed in federal court, the Secret Service said that if delegates walk directly from the security checkpoint to the Pepsi Center, they will pass "within 200 to 400 feet" of the protest zone, which will take up about 50,000 square feet in parking Lot A.

The view will be unobstructed and will be lit at night, the documents state.

Delegates are free to get closer to the so-called "public viewing area" if they choose, according to the court filing. They will be allowed no closer to the people inside, however, than eight feet.
Can they throw peanuts?
"Delegates may walk and stand virtually anywhere on the Pepsi Center grounds ... and their ability to see and hear messages conveyed by persons congregating in the Public Viewing Area will vary depending on where on the Pepsi Center grounds they choose to walk or stand," the document states.

Denver officials already have said people inside the protest zone will not be able to hand leaflets or other information to people outside the zone.

The court filings address only the protest zone at the Pepsi Center. The city has said there also will be a protest zone at Invesco Field at Mile High on the final night of the DNC, when Sen. Barack Obama is expected to give his speech accepting the Democratic nomination.
Of course, this is just what the city wants, not necessarily what it'll get. The issues will be decided in what the News calls a "trial" on July 29.

Protesters at the Democratic National Convention could be limited in what they can carry, if a proposed ordinance passes in Denver.

The proposed ordinance would ban people from carrying pipes or containers filled with cement, handcuffs, chains, carabiners, padlocks or any locking device.
And I had my handcuffs and favorite container of cement all ready to go.

“Protesters have become pretty sophisticated,” said Doug Linkhart, Denver city councilor and chair of the safety committee. "Sometimes they'll put a chain of padlocks inside a PVC tube and chain people together within that structure, so that police can’t come in with a pair of bolt cutters and cut them open simply."

But protesters such as Mark Cohen with Recreate ’68 said the city is trying to equate protesting with criminal activity.

"Criminalizing people for mere possession of a chain or padlock is just ridiculous," said Cohen. "I may be bicycling downtown for the convention, and I'll need a lock and chain to make sure my bicycle isn't stolen. And the way the ordinance is written, I'm wondering if they're going to arrest me."

Linkhart said police won’t arrest protesters for simply carrying padlocks.

He said the ordinance would apply only if banned items are inside a pipe or container and if police can prove there is intent to obstruct the convention or police. . . .

Last month, Arapahoe County passed a similar, but much broader ordinance restricting what demonstrators can carry, which included long poles with signs or banners and gas masks.

Update II: Speaking of PVC pipe, R!68 have been holding giant-puppet and banner-making classes every week. I don't think it's even been worked out whether puppets will be allowed. (Gotta have puppets.)

Update III: An otherwise boring piece in Time calls R!68's Glenn Spagnuolo a "law student." I did not know that.

Update IV: Glenn Spagnuolo, January 23, 2007:
"I don’t think the message will come down to crack skulls," he said of Denver’s ’08 convention. "We’ll try our hardest to negotiate, but we won’t be having protest zones — you can’t cage democracy."
Okay, one more from the same piece:
Spagnuolo places early estimates at the number of protesters who could be at the ’08 convention at 100,000.
Update V: Local access-TV interview with two R68ers I'd never heard of. No excitement ensues.

Update VI: Except this. Narrator: "However, the chance for the event [the DNC protests] to turn to violence remains a strong possibility. Will the public display cause Americans to take stronger action in their government? Or, will there once again be violence?" Nice writing, as always with lefties, but: a strong possibility?

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