First Amendment Violations

According to the Constitution of the United States of America, The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights states:

Amendment I

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.

The Democratic National Convention began this week in Denver, Colorado. I had read that Denver consulted with New York City (sorry I didn’t save it to link to….my bad) about their (NYC’s) handling of protesters at the convention held a few years ago at Madison Square Garden. However last week Raw Story ran a piece about this. New York’s solution was to basically cordone off only a certain area for protesters… area no where within sight or sound of Madison Square Garden where the convention was held. The arrests came later.

They apparently followed the same template in Denver.

Recently, I’ve seen it reported on CNN the Denver Police Departments preparations for arrests:

denver & the west

Razor wire nixed at temporary jail for DNC

A sign hangs on a fence in the Temporary Arrestee Processing Center near downtown Denver, which has been built to handle mass arrests, if necessary, during the DNC. (SPECIAL TO THE DENVER POST | Nathan W. Armes)

Work crews are covering the makeshift holding pens that could house protesters who run afoul of the law at next week’s Democratic National Convention with chain-link fence today.City officials had topped the holding areas with razor wire to keep those arrested from climbing out but reconsidered because of community concerns, said Denver County Undersheriff Bill Lovinger.

The temporary arrestee-processing center, which is housed in a low-slung warehouse on Steele Street and East 38th Avenue, will be open for a week starting Sunday.

The building was once used to store the city’s voting machines.

Leaders of groups that plan to demonstrate during the convention have decried the use of the building, calling it “Gitmo on the Platte.”

Each cell will contain 20 chairs. A sign posted on a steel column warns: “Electric stun devices used in this facility.”

Read the FULL STORY here.

I thought this was a bit much to be honest. And you have to wonder what the taxpayers of Denver are paying for all that too.

Then I read in Common Dreams that the Denver Police actually prevented a peaceful protest march and trapped the protesters on a street blocking anyone from entering or leaving, at both ends of the street, for several hours.

Police Trap Peaceful Protesters in Denver

A calm political protest quickly turned chaotic as anxious Denver police surrounded protestors peacefully marching toward the Democratic National Convention Center. After trapping the crowd between two buildings, hundreds of officers used pepper spray, batons and unwarranted aggression. After being surrounded for 20 minutes, two ANP producers managed to escape after recording the whole affair.

See the video here.

From what I can tell from the video, the protesters were not doing anything wrong nor were they violent. It does appear that the police made the first move by not allowing them to march. It also appears that the press and media people were moved away from the area so we don’t know what happened during the whole time the protesters were corralled.

A second Common Dreams article about protesters at the DNC:

DENVER – August 26 –
When: 3:15 pm Tuesday, August 26
Where: Denver Police Department, W. 13th Ave & Cherokee St.
What: Press ConferenceAt 3:15 p.m. at 13th and Cherokee at the Denver police headquarters on 13th and Cherry, members of Recreate 68, the Troops Out Now Coalition, Unconventional Action, People’s Law Collective and some now-released arrestees will gather to denounce the police state atmosphere surrounding the Democratic National Convention, police provocations and arrests last night and the police refusal to honor Recreate 68’s legal permit for the park and their protection of right-wing hate speech provocateurs.

Last night, police swept into the park as hundreds were gathered at the Food Not Bombs’ organized evening dinner. Using pepper spray, they forced people to run from the park directly into a police encirclement on the street at 14th and Cleveland. Many hundreds were surrounded in a standoff that lasted for hours. Through the organization of R68, hundreds of others surrounded the police, and the police finally released those encircled.

Recreate 68, organizers of the Democratic National Convention protests, will denounce the police state atmosphere that has been created this week. Larry Hales of R68 noted: “The Denver school budget has been cut by more than $50 million just to provide the funds to the Denver Police. This atmosphere has been created to justify that budget.” Since the beginning of the protests, activists have faced hundreds of police forces in full riot gear, armed with gas, helicopters, horses, bikes and more.

Eighty six protestors were arrested and booked–although protest organizers note that there was no violence by the demonstrators, and that the march hadn’t even begun. Glenn Spagnuolo of R68 stated, “Since the beginning of this mobilization, we have always said that any violence would not come from us, but would come from the police. Our predictions appear to have come true. We have never intended, planned or organized violence.” R68 has organized this week’s legal demonstrations with the message of ending illegal war, racism and occupation; and they believe that the police are trying to shut this message down.

Today, the police violated the legal permit that R68 has to the Civic Center Park, helping to protect and bring in right wing hate speech provocateurs such as Rev. Fred Phelps. When R68 organizers demanded their right to the permitted space, R68 organizer Carlo Garcia was arrested. Garcia has two brothers in Iraq and his father was given a purple heart.

When Code Pink organizer Alicia Torres questioned Garcia’s arrest, she was struck by police and arrested as well.

At today’s press conference, activists, those arrested, R68 permit holders and lawyers will raise the demands of stopping police provocations and harassment and an end to the massive police presence and intervention in the park.

It sure does seem like the people’s rights to peacefully assemble and protest their government are being violated. Since when did we start segregating protesters to areas where their protests will NOT be heard by the very people the protest is designed to speak to? This is a right that no one in government can infringe upon, yet the Denver Police (as the NYC Police did) have done just that.

I’m not buying this 9/11 security crap anymore, that excuse has been used so much there’s barely any fabric left to it.

Here’s some more links about all this you might want to check out:

ABC News

Colorado Indy Media

Rocky Mountain News

Colorado Daily

What is interesting is that it appears that ABC is the only major media outlet to have covered this incident. I can’t even find it on CNN. Nor do I see mention of it on the ACLU website.

I am curious to see how Minneapolis-St. Paul handles protesters during the Republican National Convention next week.

Makes you wonder just what is going on that our Constitution is being so openly trampled on, doesn’t it?


~ by swfreedomlover on August 27, 2008.

4 Responses to “First Amendment Violations”

  1. Oh my God. I watched that video in tears. This is the facism we can look forward to? Thank you for posting this because I hadn’t even heard any mention of it — they’ve been very effective in keeping it out of the media, just like when our troops had the greatest victory in the war when they took possession of all of that yellow cake [something like 500 million tons] that wasn’t supposed to be in Iraq. First they control the information…

  2. You should go tell this guy he is a bit misinformed

  3. What will we do when the true facist/socialist gets into the Oval Office. Who is giving the orders to suppress ALL news that would show the both sides of the story? The media is violating our First Ammendment Right. Maybe it will simply get erased from the U.S. Constitution without letting the public know. We should all reread Animal Farm. We may already be there. Remember their set of rights. In the end, all pigs are created equal


  4. Oh, God!!!!! This is Facism, America was NEVER supposed to be this way! The laws that violate our constitutional rights & rip our constitution to shreds should have it’s authors rolling in their graves!!!!!!!!!!!!

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