May 20, 2008

Recreate '68 Secures State Capitol Permit For Eve Of DNC; **Update: Recreate '68 Claims Talks With City Have Ended

Glenn Spagnuolo of Recreate '68 announced that the group had received permission to protest on the State Capitol grounds instead of Civic Center Park on the Sunday preceding the Democratic National Convention, but the real concern is the number of protestors expected:
Denver City Councilmember Doug Linkhart says he has no good idea just how many protesters will descend into Denver during the last full week of August.

"It's the great unknown," he said.

He says whatever happens, the city will do everything it can to keep its residents safe and simultaneously protect everyone's freedom of speech.

"We can't walk away from this convention having Denver put into a negative light because of how we respond (to the protesters)."

"If we have huge protests and people egging on the police, we're going to do our best to keep it peaceful."

Despite the newly secured permit, Spagnuolo attacked the city:
Glenn Spagnuolo, a Recreate 68 organizer, said Monday the state was "easy to work with" in getting the permits for Aug. 24.

However, he didn't have kind words for the city.

"The state of Colorado has stepped in where the city has refused to and acted in a responsible manner," Spagnuolo said. "If you remember at the end of the lottery process, they promised to work closely with anybody who did not obtain a park to assure their voices were heard. That was a complete lie and fabrication by the city."
Spagnuolo's group released this statement:
Representatives of the Recreate 68 Alliance, which is coordinating demonstrations around the Democratic National Convention, announced today that it had to obtain permits from the State of Colorado for the west steps of the State Capitol Building and Lincoln Park for Sunday, August 24, the day before the DNC, as a venue to stage a massive antiwar protest. This action became necessary because the city of Denver allowed a party organizer for the DNC Host Committee—a private, well-funded organization—to apply for and obtain a permit for Civic Center Park for that date, shutting the public out of the largest public park in downtown Denver. In addition, the City had refused to engage in dialogue with R68 to resolve the issue as promised.

As Glenn Spagnuolo of R68 explained, despite reports to the contrary, R68 has never threatened conflict with the Host Committee. “We only pointed out, based on past experience,” Spagnuolo said, “that the city, by denying us a place to put the thousands of people expected for this event, was creating the potential for conflict. The City promised to work with groups who did not obtain permits to assure their voices are heard during the convention, this did not occur.” R68 asked the city to discuss this situation with them, after being rebuffed, R68 worked with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to try to arrange a meeting. The city refused the requests not only of R68 but of the DOJ as well.

“Our goal from the beginning,” said R68 spokesperson Mark Cohen, “has been to create a safe space for people to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Civic Center Park would have been the most appropriate space—public parks are for the public. Since the city has denied its use to the public, R68 has obtained permits from the State of Colorado in order to avoid unnecessary conflict.”

Therefore, to avert conflict and assure that people will be able to safely and peacefully gather to express their concerns about the war, R68 obtained the state permits. R68 members Larry Hales and Carlo Garcia, both of whom have family members serving in Iraq, said that people have not only a right but a responsibility to bring their concerns about the ongoing war to the attention of convention delegates and elected officials. “We have been negotiating with the city in good faith for a year and a half,” Hales said. “We wish we could say the same for them. But we are doing everything in our power to assure people that they can exercise their Constitutional rights.”
There's that "we are peaceful, it's the city's fault if there is any conflict" meme that we have been following.

Meanwhile, Drunkablog carves up a rather long--and by long we mean Biblical--anarchist missive on "mass mobilizations," Recreate '68 (not in a positive way, either), and the relative advantages and disadvantages of protesting the RNC and DNC.

**Update--Denver Daily News says that Recreate '68 claims that communications have been cut off between the group, other affiliated protest organizations, and the ACLU and the city of Denver after the filing of lawsuits asking that the city's police plans for protest parade routes be disclosed--and the new permit for the State Capitol came from the state, not the city, seems to add to that claim. Stay tuned.

More on the ACLU's latest lawsuit over detention facilities
. . . the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday that policies at the Denver jail need to be examined to make sure people arrested during the convention will have adequate access to food, toilets, medical care and lawyers.

The ACLU sued the city and safety manager Al LaCabe over the city's refusal to turn over a copy of its policies at the city jail.

ACLU attorney Taylor Pendergrass said he has serious concerns about complaints and problems concerning operation of the jail, including the death of Emily Rice, who bled to death at the jail from internal injuries after she was arrested for DUI following a traffic accident.

LaCabe said the city has turned over as much as it can without compromising security.

"We have given them those things that we believe are in the public interest and withheld things we believe are not in the public interest that have a lot to do with security at the facility," he said.
Denver's new policy requires an arrest if related to protests, not a "cite and release" plan preferred (for obvious reasons) by the protest groups:
Last summer, in view of the many expected arrests of demonstrators at the convention, Pendergrass said the ACLU asked Denver police to handle minor violations with a summons or notice to appear in court.

But he said police refused, saying that current policy requires officers to make full arrests, including detention in the city jail, for even minor violations connected with protests.

"It is difficult to comment on this other than to say that it's important that we fully identify and process all people that we arrest," LaCabe said.

"Many of these people may be from out of town and we don't know about their identify, so all those things pose issues that make it necessary to stay with our normal procedures. There are many other reasons that I cannot comment any further on."

Pendergrass said the ACLU is concerned that jail staff will be overwhelmed by the volume of arrests during the convention.

Mark Cohen, a Recreate 68 organizer, said they would prefer to have a cite and release plan in place for the convention and claimed a long, drawn out process where people sit in jail waiting to be bonded out takes away their right to free speech during the event.

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