Saturday, August 04, 2007

Right to assemble threatened in, and by, Minneapolis and it's city leaders respectively

BLACKLOGIC was one of several activist's to receive this posting a TCs activist about the big brother stylings of the RNC, and their efforts to make the constitutionally guaranteed right to assemble at their upcoming convention in 2008 impossible by requiring permits. The Mpls city council has thus far been complicit in this effort to restrict our rights -- again.

What follows is the email in it's entirety with contacts of all the "RNC Working Group Members" in Mpls:

Subject: the right to protest threatened in minneapolis

[My apologies for any double-postings... even so, please forward this to fellow activists and organizers!]

Hello friends,

There seems some sort of conspiracy over at City Hall. Several people, including myself, have tried to call and emailed several different offices today, and prior. We are trying to understand what is being done by the so-called RNC Free Speech Work Group, and where they are in the drafting of a new ordinance to require permits for public rallies (see below).

We have spoken to individuals in the City Coordinator's office, the Mayor's office, and the offices of Councilmembers Gordon, Ostrow and Schiff. We believe (though there are conflicting reports) that the Free Speech Work Group will have it's next meeting on Wednesday, August 8 from 11am to noon. We suspect that these meetings are CLOSED to the public, and this is why we are not getting a straight answer from most the people we speak to. It is outrageous that a committee purportedly working to protect our free speech (in particular during the 2008 Republican Convention), would be meeting in secret!

Some of you haven't received all the messages that have gone around on this, over the last week or so. To catch you up... The proposed permit ordinance is alarming: among other things, it criminalizes protests without a permit (and empowers a police officer to revoke a permit during the course of a protest at their own discretion). Participating in an unpermited public rally or meeting with more than 20 people would be a MISDEMEANOR offense. This policy is unacceptable. Current city policies have no such restrictions.

We need to shine a light on what this committee is doing, and stop them from passing this restrictive ordinance. This message is to alert you to what is going on. While we work to confirm these facts, please discuss with your organization how to respond. The National Lawyers Guild is sending in a letter opposing the ordinance. The Anti-War Committee and Communities United Against Police Brutality are planning to do the same. I will forward our letters when the drafts are final. I would encourage your organizations to send in letters as well. I will include helpful contact information below.

If we can determine whether this meeting is really happening next week, it could be very important to have a presence there. Please pencil it in on your calendar (Wednesday 8/8 @ 11am). Again, I will send out a confirmation when I can get it, probably sometime on Monday.

In solidarity,
Jess Sundin
Anti-War Committee
612.272.2209 (cell)

Free Speech Work Group Members:

Mayor R.T. Ryback (member, free speech work group)
(612) 673-2100

Police Chief Tim Dolan
(612) 673-3787

City Attorney Jay Heffern
(612) 673-2010

Department of Civil Rights Director Michael Jordan
(612) 673-3012

Teresa Nelson, American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota
* note: she has raised criticisms of the proposed ordinance
651-645-4097 x122

Ward 1 Paul Ostrow (chair)
(612) 673-2201

Ward 2 Cam Gordon (alternate)
(612) 673-2202

Ward 10 Ralph Remington
(612) 673-2210 Other councilmembers:

Ward 3 Diane Hofstede
(612) 673-2203

Ward 4 Barbara Johnson
(612) 673-2204

Ward 5 Don Samuels
(612) 673-2205

Ward 6 Robert Lilligren
(612) 673-2206

Ward 7 Lisa Goodman
(612) 673-2207

Ward 8 Elizabeth Glidden
(612) 673-2208

Ward 9 Gary Schiff
(612) 673-2209

Ward 11 Scott Benson
(612) 673-2211

Ward 12 Sandy Colvin Roy
(612) 673-2212

Ward 13 Betsy Hodges
(612) 673-2213



462.10. Purpose. The purposes of this chapter are:

(a) To protect the rights of all people to the orderly freedom of expression, speech and association guaranteed by the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions;

(b) To impose reasonable time, place, duration and manner restrictions on such expression, speech and association so as to protect the public's safety and access to public buildings and spaces.
462.20. Definitions. For the purposes of this chapter, the terms defined in this section shall have the following meanings:

Business Licensing. All staff from the Business Licensing Division of Regulatory Services, all other City staff that have been assigned to coordinate on the processing and issuance of public rally permits, and all staff from other political subdivisions who are working in cooperation with City staff on the processing and issuance of public rally permits.

Person. A single person, group of persons, firm, partnership, association, corporation or other entity that intends to announce, conduct or hold a public rally.

Public Rally. A group activity involving 20 or more people including but not limited to a demonstration, meeting, assembly, protest, vigil, parades, solicitations or other gathering that takes place on public property for the purpose of expressing views or opinions. Public rallies do not include lawful picketing that has no affect on the flow of pedestrian or motorized traffic on sidewalks, streets and allies.

462.30. Public rally permit required. No person shall announce or hold any public rally prior to obtaining a public rally permit from Business Licensing. There shall be no charge for a public rally permit. Failure to obtain a permit prior to holding a public rally shall be a misdemeanor.

462.40. Written application and process. Business Licensing shall create a written application and procedures for the processing and filing of public rally permits and shall make those documents available to the public physically and electronically. Any person seeking a public rally permit shall submit an application to Business Licensing. The application shall inquire about the precise time, duration, anticipated number of persons and location of the public rally, and shall inquire about other information as deemed necessary by Business Licensing. The application shall clearly set forth all of the requirements that applicants must comply with in obtaining other licenses, permits, or other permissions for the proposed public rally. At any time prior to a scheduled public rally, reasonable time, place, duration and manner conditions may be place on the permit by Business Licensing, only upon written findings of the necessity of such conditions.

462.50. Time for filing and processing public rally permit applications. (a) If an application is submitted one year or more prior to when a person intends to hold a public rally, Business Licensing shall approve or deny the application within sixty (60) days of the date the application is received, or the permit shall be issued.

(b) If an application is submitted at least ninety (90) days but less than one year prior to when a person intends to hold a public rally, Business Licensing shall approve or deny the application within thirty (30) days of the date the application is received, or the permit shall be issued.

(c) If an application is submitted at least seven (7) days but less than ninety (90) days prior to when a person intends to hold a public rally, Business Licensing shall approve or deny the application within five (5) business days of the date the application is received, or the permit shall be issued.

(d) If an application is submitted less than seven (7) days prior to when a person intends to hold a public rally, Business Licensing shall make every possible effort to approve or deny the application the same business day or within one (1) business day, but in all cases shall approve or deny the permit within two (2) business days, or the permit shall be issued.
462.60. Grounds for denying a public rally permit. Business Licensing shall approve an application and issue a public rally permit unless:

(a) the conduct of the public rally will interfere with the safe and orderly movement of emergency personnel or vehicles at the proposed location;

2. the location of the proposed public rally is inconsistent with the anticipated size of the public rally;

3. the proposed public rally would conflict or interfere with a previously approved public rally or other scheduled public activity at the proposed location;

4. the proposed public rally location is adjacent to and would unduly disturb a neighborhood based on the timing or identified activity of the public rally;

5. the proposed public rally may cause physical injury to persons or substantial damage to property;

6. the application is incomplete in some substantive way that would affect the safety of the participants in the proposed public rally;

7. The applicant has not complied with the procedural requirements contained in the application;

8. The applicant has not provided a bond or insurance certificate as required by Business Licensing;

9. The proposed public rally is prohibited by law;

10. The application contains misrepresentations of any kind;

11. The applicant refuses to execute an agreement, as may be required by Business Licensing, to reimburse the public for costs incurred in repairing or restoring any public property to its conditions prior to the public rally;

12. The proposed public rally will interfere with the operations of any governmental agency; or

13. It reasonably appears that the proposed public rally will present a clear and present danger to the public safety or health, or conflicts with security needs anticipated for the time and place of the proposed public rally.

Prior to denying an application for a public rally permit, Business Licensing will make every effort to assist the applicant in finding a suitable and safe location in the public domain that the proposed public rally can safely take place at. Business Licensing shall make specific written findings on all factors upon which an application for a public rally permit is denied. Business Licensing shall not make any findings or deny any application for any reason relating to the content of any proposed expression, speech, idea or other protected activity.
462.70. Appeal of denial of application for public rally permit. (a) An applicant shall appeal the denial of an application for a public rally permit within 5 business days of the denial. An appeal must be submitted on a form provided by Business Licensing. Upon receipt of an appeal of a denial of an application, the Assistant City Coordinator of Regulatory Services shall designate a three-person appellate panel to hear the appeal. Two panel members shall be Deputy Directors or Directors in Regulatory Services, and one panel member shall be a City Council member.

2. The appellate panel shall consider the appeal as soon as possible so as to allow further review by state or federal courts prior to the date of the proposed public rally. If the date of the proposed public rally is less than fourteen (14) days after the appeal was received, the appellate panel shall convene and rule within one (1) business day of the appeal.

3. The appellate panel hearing is not open to the public. At the hearing, the appellate panel may receive and consider all forms of evidence, including hearsay evidence, and may set reasonable limits on the number of witnesses that may be called by Business Licensing and by the appellant. The appellate panel may limit the hearing to one (1) hour to expedite its deliberation and ruling. The appellant may be represented by an attorney.

4. The appellate panel may reverse, affirm or modify the denial of an application for a public rally permit. Upon the conclusion of the hearing, the appellate panel shall notify Business Licensing and the appellant of when it will issue its ruling. The appellate panel shall make every effort to rule as soon as possible so as to allow further review by state or federal courts prior to the date of the proposed public rally.

462.80. Violation of permit conditions. If a person violates the conditions of any permit, the permit may be immediately revoked. It shall be a misdemeanor for any person to continue to engage in an activity for which a permit was required after the permit has been revoked, provided the person knows the permit as been revoked.

462.90. Rights granted to permit holders. Any person possessing a valid permit has the exclusive right to use the area or facility specified in the permit for the applicable time. It shall be misdemeanor for any person to refuse to leave an area or facility which has been reserved by a valid permit when asked to do so by the permit holder or by any public employee or official.

462.100. Duties of permit holders. It is the duty of the permit holder to obey all laws and conditions on the permit, clean and restore the area used for the public rally to its original condition after the public rally has concluded, and to reimburse the City for all expenses incurred by the City to repair or restore any public property damaged by the public rally.

462.80. Other provisions not affected. This chapter does not alter, replace, modify or otherwise affect any other provisions in the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances.

462.90. Insurance required. Upon written findings only, Business Licensing may require an applicant to provide proof of insurance or a bond to alleviate identified risks associated with a proposed public rally.

462.100. Intergovernmental cooperation and coordination. Business Licensing staff is directed to coordinate and cooperate with other political subdivisions, including the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, to the fullest extent possible and as authorized by Joint Powers Agreements or other legal authority on the application process, permitting process, planning, coordination and all other aspects of scheduling and providing safe and available forums for public rallies.

No comments: