Well, as all of you are aware, the DNC is right around the corner. Denver is getting ready for the onslaught of delegates and protesters to hit this town. However, while the Delegates are watching the events at the Pepsi Center, protesters will be funneled into a 50,000-square-foot demonstration zone that will have two layers of chain-link fences wrapped around it during the Democratic National Convention. It has been deemed the “freedom cage” by a group planning on protesting during the convention.
The ACLU challenged the protesting restrictions in a recent lawsuit claiming that the security restrictions imposed during the Convention will violate [detainees] rights to freedom of speech and assembly under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America
In that action, the Plaintiffs identified four facets of the security restrictions that they contend infringe upon their First Amendment rights:
• The location and configuration of the Public Demonstration Zone on the Pepsi Center grounds, being outside “sight and sound” of delegates and the Pepsi Center building itself, renders it an inadequate alternative to offset the closure of some public streets to First Amendment uses;
• The terminus of the approved route for parades scheduled during the Convention, on Monday, August 25, through Wednesday, August 27, is not within “sight and sound” of the Pepsi
• The route for parades scheduled before the Convention begins, on Sunday, August 24, does not travel over Chopper Circle; and
• The City of Denver denied a permit to Plaintiff Recreate 68 for an afternoon parade on Monday, August 25 through downtown Denver, citing traffic and staffing concerns.
Federal District Judge Kreiger upheld the restriction determining that although “the Plaintiffs have shown that the challenged restrictions affect their ability to engage in expressive activities in traditional public fora. However, the Defendants have shown that the restrictions are content-neutral, that they are narrowly tailored to serve important governmental interests, and that there are adequate alternative channels by which the Plaintiffs can communicate their messages. Thus, the Plaintiffs have not shown that their First Amendment rights will be infringed, nor that they are entitled to any injunctive relief. (ACLU v. City of Denver – Read the Order here).
For the protesters who will fall to the arbitrary enforcement procedures of the Denver police force over the week, they can look forward to visiting Denver’s temporary “jail” and holding facility which has been dubbed “Gitmo on the Platte” where detainees can be happy that their confinement will not include razor wire. But, anyone arrested during the Democratic National Convention will be held in locked chain-link cells in an old warehouse. The Denver County Sheriff’s Office unveiled the facility Wednesday, saying it was designed to mimic the functions of a real jail. Hey, at least the facility will have air conditioning. However, there will be 20 people to an 18 by 18 fenced “cell.” (Source)