The Republican National Convention is creating some strange bedfellows. Earlier this week St. Paul Police Federation president Dave Titus described the planned parade route for protesters on the opening day of the convention as “a recipe for disaster.”
At a press conference this afternoon to announce that a lawsuit against the City of St. Paul will continue, protest organizers struck a similar tone. “If we try to march that route with 50,000 people it’s going to be a mess,” Jess Sundin told reporters.
What these statements make clear is that the legal (and rhetorical) dispute over St. Paul’s RNC protest policies won’t be settled anytime soon. The Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War is extremely dissatisfied with the proposed parade route for the opening day of the convention.
“It is a logistically impossible permit,” protest organizer Deb Konechne said at the press conference. “It does not even come close to resembling the permit requested.”
On Wednesday the St. Paul Police Department announced that the parade would be allowed to proceed from the Capitol down Cedar Street, across 7th St. toward the Xcel Energy Center, and conclude at a triangle of streets adjacent to the convention location. Protest organizers had requested a more-visible route that would have included the John Ireland Boulevard bridge over Interstate 94 and Kellogg Boulevard.
The group plans to file an appeal with the St. Paul City Council on Monday protesting the parade route. It seems unlikely, however, that the protesters will get much sympathy from the municipal body. Ward Two city council member Dave Thune, normally a strong ally of the anti-war movement, recently characterized the parade route on the St. Paul Issues Forum as “a great route for demonstrating within sight and sound of the Republican delegates.”
If the appeal fails, lawyers for the protest group will weigh what other legal options they might have, according to Teresa Nelson, an attorney with the Minnesota branch of the American Civil Liberties Union who is working on the lawsuit. “The city really has failed to demonstrate why this route is necessary and needed, and they’re required to do that under the First Amendment,” she said.