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DNC: Planning for the Protesters

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A few days ago we reported that Denver was seeking more police officers to cover next year’s Democratic convention and that Congressman Ed Perlmutter and a field panel of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment would be meeting this past Friday in Aurora to discuss convention security.

The AP reports that Rep. Perlmutter raised the issue of protesters’ rights at the meeting.

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Denver can do a better job than Boston did in 2004 of protecting the rights of protesters while providing security for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter said Friday.

At the 2004 convention, the first to be held after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, protesters were confined to a fenced-in area near the convention site. With three more years of experience, Perlmutter said, Denver can build on what Boston learned to both accommodate protesters and protect convention-goers.

The protesters in Boston were put in cages. It was an embarrassment to the city and Democrats. Here are some pictures I took of the protesters. There was also too much of a police presence in Boston, particularly when the SWAT team came out.

One other note of caution: In preparation for the convention, Boston was granted the authority to install a large number of surveillance cameras on buses and institute passenger searches on mass transit. When the convention was over, they didn’t give those powers back:

An array of security measures that raised the hackles of civil libertarians, but that law enforcement officials believe make the city safer, are also likely to stay. The Boston Police Department plans to move its new surveillance cameras from around the FleetCenter to high-crime neighborhoods around the city. The MBTA says it retains the right to search the bags of passengers, although it doesn’t expect to do so with any regularity.

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I welcome Rep. Perlmutter’s raising the issue of protesters’ rights now. I hope he also advocates in advance for checks and balances on police power during the convention.

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