Mar 3, 2008 11:07 pm US/Central
RNC Protesters Not Happy About Marching Routes
ST. PAUL (WCCO) ―
The city of St. Paul handed out it first conditional permit Monday to protesters who want to hold an anti-war march on the first day of the Republican National Convention.
The permit said 3,000 to 100,000 people can march on Sept. 1, but gives few details about when and where. Protesters said it was a good first step, but are concerned it won't allow them to get close enough to the Xcel Center.
Last week, St. Paul Assistant Police Chief Matt Bostrom proposed four routes. Two start at the State Capitol and two start at Harriet Island. Both end up almost two blocks from the Xcel Center. Police will likely chose more than one route.
"We feel like the city of St. Paul has decided that they're not only going to let the Republicans have their convention here, but they are going to give them this beautiful, isolated experience where they don't have to talk to anybody who disagrees with their political agenda," said Meredith Aby of the Coalition to March on the RNC.
The city began accepting demonstration permit applications Monday. They said they need time to review the permits and will offer more specifics on time and locations on May 31.
"I think what we're looking at is how we're going to accommodate as many demonstrators as possible and still have the best access for people going to and from work, getting in and out of St. Paul," said Tom Walsh, a spokesman for the St. Paul Police Department.
Protesters say the May 31 deadline is too late to outline a parade route for the 30,000 to 50,000 protesters expected to attend.
"They need to organize buses, money needs to be raised for sound stages and for everything associated with a large event," said Bruce Nestor, President of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
The city also started accepting applications for permits in city parks. Rice Park is off-limits until the city determines if it will be outside the security perimeter.
"We're open and accommodating to all groups," Brad Meyer, spokesman for the City Park's department, said. "We don't view them in terms of party affiliation. We want to make sure it's safe -- that's the biggest thing."
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