Minneapolis to regulate demonstrations during RNC

The city permits to protest are available, but not mandatory. Those who have permits will have priority over those without for the location.

Permits to protest in Minneapolis during this fall’s Republican National Convention won’t be mandatory, but it still might not be a bad idea to get one.

The Minneapolis City Council voted 11 to 2 on June 6 to regulate demonstrations during the RNC.

Groups of 50 or more people are encouraged to register with the city to demonstrate on city sidewalks. The free permits will not be mandatory, but those who register for a certain location will have priority over those who do not.

The Minneapolis resolution will only apply to the week before and the week of the convention, which takes place Sept. 1-4 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul .

Ward 2 City Councilman Cam Gordon, whose ward includes much of the University area, voted against the resolution.

He said he was glad the ordinance is temporary, but has problems with it creating “exclusive access” for those groups that register.

“I was very concerned that we were going to create a permanent long-lasting policy change and at least we avoided that,” Gordon said.

Police policies and practices for dealing with demonstrators will be decided later this month.

Supporters of the resolution say permits will help groups plan for major demonstrations and allow the city to accommodate them.

Ward 1 Councilman Paul Ostrow , who helped author the resolution, said the RNC presents a unique situation.

“People on this kind of issue expect us to run the city and run it well,” Ostrow said.

Although he originally supported a lasting resolution, rather than a temporary one, Ostrow said the city may use this as an example for similar resolutions in the future.

“I think we’ll be taking a look at how the RNC goes from a number of different perspectives,” he said.

The convention will take place in St. Paul, but Ostrow said there may be significant protests in Minneapolis too, especially because many of the delegates will be staying in the city’s hotels.

Erick Boustead is a member of SUBSTANCE, a University student group organizing a music festival during the RNC .

On Sept. 2, the festival will promote clean energy, social justice and human rights on the Capitol Mall in St. Paul.

The group was not interested in demonstrating in Minneapolis, Boustead said.

“We wanted to be as close to St. Paul as possible,” he said. “Demonstrations are usually at the heart of what’s going on.”

Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Minnesota , said the Minneapolis sidewalk permitting ordinance is unnecessary, but he is glad it’s only effective for two weeks.

However, the ACLU hasn’t decided if it will pursue legal action against the city, he said.

“Every city basically has had their permitting law challenged by the ACLU at one time or another,” Samuelson said.