Minneapolis to be a Constitution-free zone

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Recognize that? It is the First Ammendment to the Constitution of the United States. The Twin Cities Daily Planet reports that the mayor and city council might decide to try to turn off some parts of the First Ammendment that they find inconvenient. Specifically, the Orwellian-named Free Speech Work Group is suggesting that any gathering of more than 25 people should require a permit if their objective is to express views or opinions. Failure to comply could result in getting arrested by the police and charged with a misdemeanor offense.

This move is both stupid and troubling. It is stupid because it will embroil the city in a potentially expensive series of legal battles with people arrested for daring to peaceably assemble. It is troubling because it values control of the public space over the rights of the citizenry to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The fact that the city council and the mayor would consider such a thing is astonishing to me. If the article is correct, it reveals that they have become so wedded to bureaucratic control that they have lost sight of fundamental values and limits to their authority.

I will be contacting the mayor’s office and the city council member from my ward to make sure they both understand how wrong this plan is. I hope you’ll do the same.

6 Comments so far

  1. Joe (unregistered) on August 17th, 2007 @ 9:00 am

    Can anyone say Republican National Convention?

    As the city gears up for this big event, you will see more laws put in place to make it possible to arrest/detain protesters or anyone else caught in the street that looks like they might have an opinion.

    I fully expect to be arrested for peacefully protesting in 2008 and just maybe, I’ll get tear gassed and beating with batons as well.

    The Police State is coming to Minnesota and if you have any doubts, just take a look at what happened in New York during the last RNC…

  2. Joe (unregistered) on August 17th, 2007 @ 9:03 am
  3. Erica M (unregistered) on August 17th, 2007 @ 9:34 am

    Oh, I have no doubt that it’s directly related to the upcoming RNC. It concerns me even more that they’re showing such “foresight.”

    I mean, seriously, this is totally counter to the First Amendment. Outrageous. I’m sure this is set up in such a way that the public has no means by which to have direct input (like voting), so it’s imperative that we express our concern to our city council members.

  4. Erica M (unregistered) on August 17th, 2007 @ 9:43 am

    And this public safety pretense is bullshit. The police want to know when a demonstration is occurring so they can direct traffic and ensure the safety of… who?

    And how can they even enforce this, anyway? If 1000 people just show up downtown in front of the government center, can they really ticket them all?

  5. Hannah V. (unregistered) on August 21st, 2007 @ 2:12 pm

    (in reply to Erica)
    I’m sure they’d try to hand out as many tickets as possible, were this to pass.

    I recall reading a bit about how officers were asked to start ticketing more traffic/parking violations to get more money flowing in, so this may look like a good opportunity for them. Whether they could pull it off or not, that’s another question.

  6. Yoder (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2007 @ 6:57 pm

    They don’t have to ticket anyone on the spot. If NYC is any indication, all they have to do is round up everyone they can get their hands on, throw them in an abandoned bus garage until the convention is over. Once it is over, they can take their sweet time processing everyone and decide at that time if they want to ticket you.

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