7/25/2008 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Press Release: City Council Approves Back-Room Deal to Strip Away Crucial Protections for Demonstrators

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2008

City Council Approves Back-Room Deal to Strip Away Crucial Protections for Demonstrators
Broad Coalition of Twin Cities-based Activists to Hold Public Hearing Council Denied Them

MINNEAPOLIS ­ At their July 16 meeting, the Minneapolis City Council’s Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee unanimously passed an amended resolution stripping away important protections for free speech. The committee passed this amended resolution without a public hearing and the City Council is set to pass it this morning, also without a public hearing, thus denying the public the opportunity to participate in the democratic process. With the upcoming Republican National Convention on most activists’ minds, there is broad opposition to the resolution but we were not allowed to voice our opinions. A broad coalition of Twin Cities-based activists will be holding our own public hearing at a rally outside City Hall at 9:00 a.m. this morning prior to today’s City Council meeting.

WHAT: A broad coalition of Twin Cities-based activists will be holding its own public hearing at a rally outside City Hall on Friday morning before the City Council meeting.

WHERE: Minneapolis City Hall, 350 South 5th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415.

WHEN: Friday, July 25, 9:00 a.m.

The original resolution passed on June 20 but amendments proposed by Council Member Cam Gordon were sent back to the PS&RS Committee for consideration during their July 16 meeting. Gordon’s original amendments would have restored important protections from police abuse that activists fought for and won after a series of excessive-force incidents surrounding protests against the International Society of Animal Genetics conference in 2000. These protections included prohibitions against the use of rubber bullets on protestors, police obscuring their identities, police infiltration of activist groups and creating dossiers on activists, and denying people access to immediate medical care.

While activists were busy promoting Gordon’s amendments to the public at large and urging council members to support them, Gordon was busy modifying them in a back-room deal that did nothing to protect the community and gave police broader powers to chill First Amendment rights. One particularly disturbing clause of the amended resolution allows police to use rubber bullets and other projectiles on protestors when they feel it is “reasonable” to do so. Another allows them to confiscate, destroy, or tamper with cameras if they could be used as evidence. These new powers put demonstrators, legal observers, the public at large, and the media at great risk of harm and repression.

By passing this amended resolution without public input, the City Council has demonstrated its contempt for the democratic process, its lack of concern for the safety of its constituents, and its willingness to trample their rights. At the rally this morning, the public will have the opportunity to voice opposition to the Council’s outrageous resolution and undemocratic practices.

This public hearing/rally is being organized by a broad coalition of Twin Cities-based activists who oppose the Minneapolis City Council giving the Minneapolis Police Department carte blanche to intimidate and brutalize protestors who are exercising their constitutional rights. The activists in this coalition are members of a variety of organizations that promote different causes and practice different tactics, thus attesting to the sweeping nature of the Council’s actions and the broad-based opposition to this travesty for civil rights.

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