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DNC: Protesters to be Caged

This is ridiculous. How can the Court allow it? This will be the shame of Boston:

An area designated for organized protests appears enclosed by mesh and chain link fencing near the site of the upcoming Democratic National Convention, in Boston, Wednesday, July 21, 2004. A new federal lawsuit has been filed against the city over the fenced-in protest area that has been called a 'demonstration zone,' and a 'free speech zone.'

From an editorial in the Boston Globe today:

US District Judge Douglas Woodlock also split the difference Thursday when deciding two lawsuits brought by civil liberties activists. The judge, wisely, will allow antiwar protesters access to Causeway Street tomorrow for what is expected to be the largest protest march of the week. But disappointingly, Woodlock left intact the pathetic coop, complete with razor wire and netting, that is to serve as the designated protest area during the rest of the week. Yesterday, lawyers for the protesters appealed for redress to the US Court of Appeals, and a three-member panel of judges agreed to review the case and additional filings on Monday morning. Clarity must be brought to Woodlock's decision, in which he refers to the protest zone as "an affront to the idea of free expression" yet, fearing violence, allows it to remain.

The judges need to step in and ensure that speculative concerns about violence are not allowed to trump free speech. Reasonable changes are needed to restore balance. The zone, for example, could be enlarged and shorn of some of its more cagelike fittings. Most demonstrators want to be heard, not feared. And the police are trained to deal with the violent few.

Weeks -- even years -- from now, as Bostonians look back on convention week, the efforts by the police union to embarrass the convention's hosts will appear selfish and misguided. Bostonians will be proud that Menino stood up to the union. But the city's protest zone, if unaltered, is likely to evoke shame. The feared antics of a few anarchists are not sufficient cause for security planners to upend the cradle of liberty.

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