ACLU Files DNC Lawsuit Against Feds

The ACLU announced today it had filed a lawsuit in hopes of compelling the Secret Service to release security perimeter plans for Democratic National Convention in August. At a press conference this morning, ACLU of Colorado Director Mark Silverstein, pictured, said that the Secret Service’s delay in announcing how close citizens will be able to get to the Pepsi Center has prevented the city from issuing parade permits to protest groups, some of whom submitted applications twelve months ago. The ongoing lack of details on allowable demonstration areas is also hindering civil rights advocates by providing less and less time to challenge efforts to keep protesters isolated in cage-like “free speech zones,” as was the case at the 2004 DNC in Boston.

“No one will tell us what these restrictions are,” said Silverstein. “There’s a very real risk that there won’t be enough time for the judicial review before the convention begins.”

Silverstein says the postponement in revealing the security perimeter amounts to a violation of the First Amendment rights of the thirteen activist groups named in the suit, which ranged from local outfits like Recreate 68 and the Escuela Tlatelolco to national organizations such as United for Peace and Justice.

“The public has a right to demonstrate their beliefs to the delegates,” Silverstein added.

The federal court lawsuit requests an expedited hearing schedule for the security perimeter that would give all parties sufficient time to challenge unfair restrictions. While the city has yet to issue parade permits, it used a lottery to award park permits for protest groups wishing to hold events. – Jared Jacang Maher

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Sean Cronin