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Monday, August 23, 2004

Concerts in Central Park, but no protesters

A federal judge ruled today that protesters cannot gather in Central Park (the most obvious gathering spot in the city) during the Republican National Convention next week.

The Associated Press reported, "Gail Donoghue, special assistant to the city's corporation counsel, had argued [before the judge] that the lawn would be ruined if 75,000 people gathered there for a rally on Saturday."

U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III was also concerned about safety, according to the AP report.

But can there be safety without democracy? What happened to the right to peaceful assembly? Do judges no longer read the Constitution?


At 6:01 PM, Blogger Anna said...

Didn't the protesters of the Democratic National Convention receive the same treatment? As I recall all protest groups had to have approval to protest and then had to stand in a pen (a fenced-in area) to protest. It seems to me that not being allowed to protest in Central Park is a lot better than being confined to a certain location.
Besides, protests groups are annoying no matter which side of the fence you stand on. They are not such much concerned with changing personal opinion as they are with harassing innocent passers-by.

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Outrage said...

Anna makes a good point... the Democrats weren't any better than the Republicans about offering a forum for protest during their convention. But I question her thesis that protests are a mere annoyance. Protests paved the way for the abolition of slavery and women's right to vote. The right to protest is an integral part of a free society. A public protest is the mechanism for the disempowered and the underprivileged, the marginalized and the forgotten, the dispossessed and the disenchanted, for anyone really, to express their views about the state of the nation. When we live in a society where the voice of the broader public is not welcome--where the only contribution that is deemed worthwhile is the millionaires and connected who carpet the floor of party political conventions--our society is no longer the one envisioned by America's founders.

For more background information on recent attempts to stifle protest at the expense of constitutional rights, I recommend Jim Hightower's recent article for The Nation.


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