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When we last wrote about the state lawsuit between the ACLU and the City and County of Denver over the rights of protesters at the Democratic National Convention, it looked like both sides had agreed on most issues. Apparently, this is not the case for the federal lawsuit between them. A three-hour trial will take place today before U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Krieger. At issue: Whether the Judge should:
Reconfigure or move the Pepsi Center protest area. Redraw the existing parade route to take marchers within “sight and sound” of the Pepsi Center. Allow a parade down Chopper Circle, right next to the Pepsi Center, on August 24, the day before the convention opens. Allow a parade through downtown ending at the federal court complex on 19th Street.
The ACLU’s trial brief, filed July 24, is here. It says that Denver and the Secret Service propose:
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to prohibit any parade or march that will be visible from the Pepsi Center; to require people wishing to exercise free speech rights to enter a government-manned gauntlet; to force demonstrators to stand inside a caged confinement pen (also not within view of the Pepsi Center); to require any person in that cage to attempt to convey his or her message, above a cacophony of competing voices and noises, to convention delegates in the one minute it takes them to walk toward or from the Pepsi Center; and to bar the distribution of leaflets or pamphlets to delegates;
The ACLU web page, with many more case details and pleadings, is here. In a nutshell, the lawsuit calls upon the judge to strike a balance between First Amendment rights and governmental security interests. Some of the many plaintiffs in the lawsuit are: the ACLU of Colorado, American Friends Service Committee, American Indian Movement of Colorado, CodePink, Recreate 68, Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center, and Tent State University. The defendants are the City and County of Denver, Michael Battista (Deputy Chief of Operations for the Denver Police Department),the U.S. Secret Service, and Mark Sullivan (Director of the Secret Service.) While witness testimony will be taken today, closing arguments will be held July 31, 2008 at 1:30 p.m.