Minneapolis city council restricts free speech in wake of convention


spirited debate

came to an end Friday when the Minneapolis City Council approved an ordinance to regulate demonstrations in the wake of the Republican National Convention, against the advice of the ACLU.

The law requires groups of 50 or more to register with the city if they want priority over sidewalk space for protests. While failure to register can not result in criminal charges, if two groups are at the same spot, the police will ask the non-registered group to leave.

The measure introduced by councilman Paul Ostrow was meant to be permanent, but council members amended the legislation to make it only apply during the weeks surrounding the convention.

Proponents of the legislation say it gives police the necessary authority to handle a situation if chaos occurs during the RNC.

Others say the law restricts free speech, gives certain groups ownership over public sidewalks and is a bureaucratic solution waiting for a problem. They doubt any sort of action is necessary in the wake of the RNC, since most protests will be occurring in St. Paul.

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