Protesters are more welcomed by the Republicans than the Democrats when it comes convention time

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With all this talk about free speech and fair assembly in Minnesota this year, Time Magazine took its piece of the convention coverage pie and reported Sunday that ironically, protesters in Denver will be pushed much farther away from convention-goers, than those in St. Paul.

Apparently, Democratic lawmakers in Denver are having the same struggle as the left-leaning lawmakers here.

Some 50,000 protesters will gather in Denver August 25-28 at a "fenced in portion of "Parking Lot A," several football-field lengths away from the Pepsi Center, the main spot for the Democratic Convention. According to Time:

Under current plans, the arrangements for protesters in St. Paul appear to provide protesters with closer access to the entrance of the convention hall than Denver, where the arena is buffered from the protest area by hundreds of meters of parking lots, some of which may be filled with media trailers. "People will be considerably closer in St. Paul," said Mark Silverstein, an attorney with the Colorado ACLU, who is helping to lead the litigation there.

With just weeks until the Democrats convene, dissenters are criticizing the city's Democratic Mayor's office due in part to Barack Obama's recent decision to hold his speech in a separate football stadium. "They want to look like they are the party of the people," said Glenn Spagnuolo to Time, a law student who is helping to organize a group that plans to march on the Democratic convention. "And they don't want the public to see these protests."

Attorneys in both cities have filed motions in federal court arguing regulations on free speech fall short of the constitution. This week, U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen in Minneapolis plans to rule on a petition to expand the route and march time of dissenters. U.S. District Judge Marcia S. Krieger has planned a July 29 hearing to review march routes and demonstrations in Denver.

Both St. Paul and Denver have announced plans to restrict marches to certain hours during the middle of the day, before delegates are likely to arrive at the convention halls. "The question is whether we are going to be marching to an empty building," says Bob Hennessey, an attorney at Linquist and Vennum, who is representing the St. Paul coalition. ...

Despite having greater access, people in St. Paul complain that because the designated protest area is a triangle with the tip culminating at the convention all, there is a risk of people vying for the same spot. "What if you have different groups with different political aims and desires?" asks Chris Sur in the article. Sur is an attorney with the Maslon law firm, who is representing protesters in negotiations with the St. Paul. "What if they are all fighting for one access point?"



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