Wednesday, May 21
3:30 p.m., public hearing at 5:30 p.m.
St. Paul City Hall
15 W Kellogg Blvd, 3rd Floor
On Wednesday, May 14, the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War received an alternate permit for our demonstration on September 1, 2008. This alternate permit was provided because both the route and the time in our permit application were rejected by St. Paul Police.
Thanks to public pressure from you, and pending legal action in federal court, we now have a permit that will take our march up to the Xcel Center.
However, the terms of the alternate permit will not accommodate the large, national demonstration we are planning. The space and time limitations are unworkable, and are designed to limit the impact we can have on the RNC and its media coverage.
Every street around the Xcel Center will be closed, to provide security to the politicians who will meet inside to congratulate themselves on 5 years of a brutal war on Iraq. Two parking lots adjacent to the Xcel are reserved for media trucks, which the RNC will rely on to broadcast their message of war, trying to convince the people of this country to cast their votes for more years of war and human suffering in Iraq, and more years of ignoring human needs here at home.
The alternate permit grants our Coalition the small space that remains: A 2000 square foot triangle, across the street from the Xcel Center. Our permit allows the use of that space for less than 2 hours, and requires that the march proceed along a 1000-foot long turn about, then turn back on itself, and return to the State Capitol Building on the same road we marched in on. This limited time and space cannot accommodate 50,000 protesters.
The alternative permit effectively protects the Republicans and their message of war, while restricting the rights of common people to demand peace, justice and equality. Limiting both time and space for the march – ensures that only some protesters will have a chance to raise their voice at the site of the Convention, while thousands may never even see the building. This is a plan we cannot accept.
According to the City ordinance, permit decisions can be appealed to City Council. This week, we will ask St. Paul City Council members to overturn the police department’s decision, and grant our original permit request for September 1, 2008. We will also raise our objections to the alternate permit that was granted.
Moreover, the St. Paul Police Department is required to demonstrate a substantial public safety interest that necessitates rejecting the original request. We have received no explanation of how the alternate route satisfies any concerns raised by our original route. City Council members can get real answers.
We ask you to call on the St. Paul City Council to stand on the side of peace and justice, to issue the permit we applied for, to ensure a successful March on the RNC to stop the war on Iraq.
We expect our appeal to be heard at the City Council meeting on Wednesday, May 21, 2008, on the 3rd floor of City Hall at 15 W. Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul. The meeting begins at 3:30pm, and public hearings are scheduled for 5:30pm – it is not clear when the Permit appeal will be scheduled on the agenda. Please attend the meeting if you can, and contact St. Paul City officials beforehand.
Ask them to approve the original permit application, including a later and longer time, and a route that physically accommodates more protesters and provides more space at the Xcel Center. They can also help by getting the police to answer some of these questions:
1. Why was the original permit denied? What specifically about the route and time would create the traffic and safety issues stated as the basis for denial? How does the alternate permit avoid these issues?
2. Why does the March have to clear the Xcel by 2:00 p.m.? Will all demonstrators be banned from the “soft security zone” after 2:00 p.m.? If not, why can’t the March go later in the afternoon? Can the March starting time be moved back to accommodate people from out of town who will be arriving? If not, why not?
3. Why do the free speech rights of the corporate media take precedence over the rights of the people? Two parking lots adjacent to X-Cel are both being given to the media, can’t one of them be given to the people? Either parking lot would not be any closer to X-Cel than the demonstration zone, but would greatly expand the ability of people to reach the Xcel and turn around without problems.
4. When will the delegates arrive on 9/1/08? Is the plan to make the March pass by X-Cel center by 2:00 p.m. just so that it will be gone by the time the delegates start arriving?
Debbie Montgomery (Ward 1) * 651-266-8610 Dave Thune (Ward 2) * 651-266-8620 Pat Harris (Ward 3) * 651-266-8630 Russ Stark(Ward 4) * (651) 266-8640 Lee Helgen (Ward 5) * 651-266-8650 Dan Bostrom (Ward 6) * 651-266-8660 Kathy Lantry, President (Ward 7) * 651-266-8670
Also, please contact Chris Coleman, Mayor * 651-266-8510
Background: See a map of the City’s proposal on-line here – http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_9262346
See the Coalition’s proposed route on-line here – http://www.protestrnc2008.org/node/39