Dem and GOP conventions spark First Amendment concerns

As our sister site Minnesota Monitor reports, not even the police are happy about recently disclosed plans for a parade route on the first day of the GOP convention, and activists with the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War are still pursuing a lawsuit that was filed in March seeking specific details about where people will be allowed to assemble during the event:

The Republican National Convention is creating some strange bedfellows. Earlier this week St. Paul Police Federation president Dave Titus described the planned parade route for protesters on the opening day of the convention as "a recipe for disaster."

At a press conference this afternoon to announce that a lawsuit against the City of St. Paul will continue, protest organizers struck a similar tone. "If we try to march that route with 50,000 people, it’s going to be a mess," Jess Sundin, founder of the Anti-War Committee and a representative from the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, told reporters.

 "It is a logistically impossible permit," protest organizer Deb Konechne said at the press conference. "It does not even come close to resembling the permit requested."

The group plans to file an appeal with the St. Paul City Council on Monday protesting the parade route. It seems unlikely, however, that the protesters will get much sympathy from the municipal body. Ward 2 city council member Dave Thune, normally a strong ally of the anti-war movement, recently characterized the parade route on the St. Paul Issues Forum as "a great route for demonstrating within sight and sound of the Republican delegates."

Meanwhile, in Denver, activists have yet to discover any information about where they will be permitted to go during the Democratic convention other than the fact that a parade route will be made available sometime during the convention. The situation has prompted a lawsuit against the city and the Secret Service from activists who want more information about the route and assembly spots.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at