THE 2004 DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION

FORT BOSTON

compiled by Dee Finney

updated - 7-29-04


 
Convention Protesters Upset With Site
 
Sun Jul 25, 5:36 AM ET

By MARK JEWELL, Associated Press Writer

BOSTON - As thousands of delegates, journalists and dignitaries stream into the FleetCenter, protesters for the next few days will be enclosed in a shadowy, closed-off piece of urban streetscape just over a block away.

The maze of overhead netting, chain link fencing and razor wire couldn't be further in comfort from the high-tech confines of the arena stage where John Kerry is to accept the Democratic nomination for president during the four-day convention that kicks off Monday.

Abandoned, elevated rail lines and green girders loom over most of the official demonstration zone that slopes down to a subway station closed for the duration. To avoid hitting girders, tall protesters will have to duck at one end of the 28,000-square-foot zone. Train tracks obscure the line of sight to much of the FleetCenter. Concrete blocks were set around streets in the area, a transportation hub on the north side of downtown.

Protesters likened the site Saturday to a concentration camp as they complained it is too far from the FleetCenter to get their messages across, even though the site is next to a parking lot where many delegates will pass on foot en route to the arena.

Authorities say — and a judge agreed — the discomforts are needed for security in the post-Sept. 11 era.

On a rainy morning made darker by overhead girders, protest leaders held a news conference at the demonstration zone Saturday to object to the site. Some called it a violation of their free-speech rights. As they spoke, pools of rainwater collected on pavement.

"We don't deserve to be put in a detention center, a concentration camp," said Medea Benjamin of San Francisco. "It's tragic that here in Boston, the birthplace of democracy, our First Amendment rights are being trampled on."

Two fellow protesters from the anti-war group Code Pink, who dressed in pink Statue of Liberty garb, taped their mouths shut. Some activists said while they understand the need for security, organizers went overboard.

"We are on high, high red alert for the protection of our civil liberties," said Claryce Evans, national coordinator for United Peace and Justice. American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild attorneys asked a federal judge to open up or move the zone.

U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock this past week called the conditions "an affront to free expression" and a "festering boil." He refused to order changes, but is letting protesters march past the site Sunday. A coalition of protesters appealed to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Authorities said they were lowering the maximum number of protesters to 1,000, from a previous 4,000, because of concerns of overcrowding.


'HARD ZONE'

Confusion reigns as security rules

With 15-foot fencing and black netting, the area around the FleetCenter was transformed yesterday into the so-called hard zone, where uniformed soldiers and police officers in bright orange raincoats patrolled outside while the Secret Service completed its sweep of the facility for security threats in preparation for tomorrow's start of the Democratic National Convention.

Because of the security sweep, several hundred reporters and news crews spent up to two hours waiting to get to office space inside the zone.

''It's the Secret Service," said one Boston police officer, after he sent reporters to the wrong entrance. ''They keep changing orders."

About 500 journalists toting briefcases and cameras were herded around almost the entire perimeter of the FleetCenter, and across two ramps to Route 93 and onto the parking lot of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center.

Another 200 journalists cooled their heels at one entrance to the FleetCenter for more than 90 minutes not knowing that the media at another entrance was finally gaining access, at least to the magnetometers.

''I've covered 10 conventions," said Mark Z. Barabak, a Washington correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. ''There's a lot of confusion. It doesn't seem like anyone knows what's going on."

The Secret Service chalked up the confusion to necessary precautions. ''The whole security screening process is a thought out and complicated process when we're doing something like this," said Ann Roman, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service.

Dump trucks from Boston Public Works blocked several streets leading to the security perimeter on Causeway Street, adding to the fortress-like atmosphere.

Two private security guards stood watch by a local Fox 25 news satellite truck parked on Friend Street outside the perimeter. The Fox 25 logo was covered with blue duct tape, perhaps in response to the FBI warning issued last week that a radical group of domestic terrorists may target news vehicles. Most network and local TV news trucks were parked in a designated lot inside the hard zone, authorities said.

A spokeswoman for CBS news said her bosses had instructed her not to talk about security preparations, but Sandy Genelius said, ''We feel we're as prepared as we can be."

Asked for updates about threats to media vehicles, Coast Guard Petty Officer Zack Zubricki said, ''There have been no incidents. It's been quiet so far."

The biggest sighting of the day by far was the arrival of a liquefied natural gas tanker traveling through Boston harbor with four tug boats flanked by four orange zodiac inflatable boats. Two US Coast Guard ships escorted the flotilla. Journalists standing on the roof of the nearby Boston Harbor Hotel gawked as the heavily fortified blue tanker cruised through the harbor with black military helicopters whirring overhead.

LNG tankers sailing into the Distrigas terminal in Everett have long been controversial as potential terrorist targets. Distrigas announced last spring that there would be no LNG tankers traveling into Boston during convention week. But Distrigas spokesman Douglas Bailey said yesterday that the delivery was planned well in advance with various law enforcement officials notified.

''We voluntarily scheduled our tankers' arrivals and departures so they wouldn't interfere with the DNC, which starts next week," said Bailey. ''We don't release when we bring them in," he said. ''Nobody is surprised by this."

Mayor Thomas M. Menino has repeatedly warned that LNG tankers pose a potential threat to the city when they cross the harbor and dock in Everett. But a spokesman for Menino, Seth Gitell, said that the LNG delivery yesterday was not a problem since the convention had not yet begun.

By last evening, there had been no security-related arrests.

But amid the heightened security, police answered an emergency call in Hyde Park yesterday and searched a privately owned school bus with Idaho plates that contained two small gasoline containers and a few 130-gallon propane tanks, Boston police said.

Some media members found amusement. Jim Mitchell, a CBS crew member, smiled at having to cross the highway to gain access to the magnetometers outside the media center. ''It was kind of insane," Mitchell said. ''Like, 'make way for the ducklings crossing Storrow Drive.' "

Stephen Kurkjian and Glen Johnson of the Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent Jack Encarnacao contributed to this report. 

2004 The New York Times Company

Sat Jul 24, 2004 6:01 PM ET

U.S. Capitol police officers patrol Boston's Rowes Wharf Saturday, July 24, 2004, two days before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Boston. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

Presidential Elections - AP
First Democratic Delegates Hit Boston

The designated "free speech zone at the Fleet Center in Boston has drawn outrage 
from legal and free speech advocates, but so far, no protest from the Democratic party.

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent

BOSTON - The first Democratic delegates descended on their heavily fortified convention city Saturday as campaign officials said Sen. John Kerry's main challenge was to persuade voters just tuning into the race to hand him the White House in an age of terrorism.

"It's very much a get-to-know-you process," said spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter at the same time Kerry's convention scriptwriters labored to find the combination of words, symbols and images to make the perfect introduction.

 Kerry, who runs even to slightly ahead of President Bush in pre-convention polls, campaigned slowly toward a convention city that has nurtured his career for decades.

 "John Edwards and I are determined that we are going to be champions for the middle class, the folks who built this country," he told an audience in Sioux City, Iowa, the state whose caucuses put him on the path to the nomination.

 "We go to Boston, to the birthplace of the revolution of America and the possibilities of the future. And from there we go to the White House."

 The convention is the country's first since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the security precautions showed it.

 Air Force warplanes offered constant air cover for the city, and authorities said liquefied natural gas tankers which normally use Boston Harbor to reach their terminal would be denied access for the week.

 The Coast Guard had infrared and night-vision cameras for use in its patrols of the harbor, while 100 video cameras silently scanned the area around the FleetCenter.

 Inside the hall, the transformation from athletic arena to convention hall was nearly complete. A huge built-to-order podium filled one side of the facility, with 100,000 red, white and blue balloons nestled in the ceiling, to be dropped on cue.

 For the delegates, the weekend promised a blur of pre-convention parties. Among them was a Sunday clambake for high-dollar Kerry donors, hosted by Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at the family compound on Cape Cod where John F. Kennedy sweated out the results of a close election more than four decades ago.

 A dozen presidential campaigns later, another Massachusetts senator hopes to follow him to the White House.

 Kerry, 60, arrives in Boston on Wednesday, although he isn't expected in the convention hall before he delivers his prime-time acceptance speech on the convention's final night.

 Several officials said there were plans for Kerry to speak to the delegates by remote hookup on Tuesday night, when his wife Teresa takes her speaking turn at the convention podium. These officials spoke on condition of anonymity, noting the event has been designed as a surprise for Mrs. Kerry.

 Kerry also is expected to attend a fireworks display on Wednesday night, a star-spangled spectacle timed to punctuate Edwards' vice presidential acceptance speech.

 The political convention season opened with the electorate divided, Kerry having consolidated his support among Democrats and Bush among Republicans. Ralph Nader's inclusion in the surveys did little to change the outcome of the polls.

 The latest Los Angeles Times survey showed Kerry and Bush in a statistical tie 46 percent for the Democratic ticket and 44 for Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. A Time Magazine survey released on the eve of the convention showed the race to be 48 percent for Kerry and 44 percent for Bush, with a 4 percent margin of error.

 Many surveys also show that more than 50 percent of the electorate say they believe the country is on the wrong track a clear indication that the nation may be ready to switch presidents.

But Kerry and his campaign agenda remain less known than Bush. In a Los Angeles Times poll, one-third of all voters said they didn't know enough about the four-term Massachusetts senator to form an opinion of him. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal survey reported only 66 percent of voters knew a lot or a fair amount of what he stands for.

Campaign strategists said the millions of voters who don't know about Kerry comprise the audience they're targeting convention week.

Convention planners intend to present Kerry as a decorated Vietnam veteran, prosecutor and senator, and use his biography to depict him as a man who has served the country in a variety of ways.

Jim Rassman, who credits Kerry with saving his life in Vietnam decades ago, will speak to the convention Thursday night. Former Democratic Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, a Vietnam veteran who lost three limbs on the battlefield, will deliver the formal introduction speech.

Campaign officials, who have the final say in virtually all of the dozens of speeches to be delivered over the four days, said they intend to devote little time to criticizing Bush from the podium.

The focus will be on Kerry and his agenda, said one strategist, who contended that there was no need to assail Bush because continuing violence in post-war Iraq and an economy still emerging from a slump was undercutting the president.

At the same time, Kerry's aides have taken pains to say they don't expect a major surge in public support as a result of the convention.

"Challengers sometimes get their convention and vice presidential selection bounces because they have not consolidated their partisan base," Kerry's pollster, Mark Mellman, wrote in a recent memo. This year, he said, "there is little base left for John Kerry to consolidate."

Bush, whose own nominating convention opens in New York in five weeks, was at his ranch in Texas. But his campaign did its best to depict Kerry as a lawmaker whose views are too liberal even for voters in his own, heavily Democratic state.

___

On the Net:

http://www.johnkerry.com

http://www.georgewbush.com

Convention Protesters Upset With Site

By MARK JEWELL, AP

BOSTON (July 25, 2004) - As thousands of delegates, journalists and dignitaries stream into the FleetCenter, protesters for the next few days will be enclosed in a shadowy, closed-off piece of urban streetscape just over a block away.

Protesters dressed as the Statue of Liberty pose in the designated protest area.

The maze of overhead netting, chain link fencing and razor wire couldn't be further in comfort from the high-tech confines of the arena stage where John Kerry is to accept the Democratic nomination for president during the four-day convention that kicks off Monday.

Abandoned, elevated rail lines and green girders loom over most of the official demonstration zone that slopes down to a subway station closed for the duration. To avoid hitting girders, tall protesters will have to duck at one end of the 28,000-square-foot zone. Train tracks obscure the line of sight to much of the FleetCenter. Concrete blocks were set around streets in the area, a transportation hub on the north side of downtown.

Protesters likened the site Saturday to a concentration camp as they complained it is too far from the FleetCenter to get their messages across, even though the site is next to a parking lot where many delegates will pass on foot en route to the arena.

Authorities say - and a judge agreed - the discomforts are needed for security in the post-Sept. 11 era.

On a rainy morning made darker by overhead girders, protest leaders held a news conference at the demonstration zone Saturday to object to the site. Some called it a violation of their free-speech rights. As they spoke, pools of rainwater collected on pavement.

"We don't deserve to be put in a detention center, a concentration camp," said Medea Benjamin of San Francisco. "It's tragic that here in Boston, the birthplace of democracy, our First Amendment rights are being trampled on."

Two fellow protesters from the anti-war group Code Pink, who dressed in pink Statue of Liberty garb, taped their mouths shut. Some activists said while they understand the need for security, organizers went overboard.

"We are on high, high red alert for the protection of our civil liberties," said Claryce Evans, national coordinator for United Peace and Justice. American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild attorneys asked a federal judge to open up or move the zone.

U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock this past week called the conditions "an affront to free expression" and a "festering boil." He refused to order changes, but is letting protesters march past the site Sunday. A coalition of protesters appealed to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Authorities said they were lowering the maximum number of protesters to 1,000, from a previous 4,000, because of concerns of overcrowding.

07/24/04 17:46 EDT

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press

 

Monday, July 26, 2004

Convention security preparations enter final hours


By MATT APUZZO
Associated Press Writer



BOSTON-
Protesters during the day and a series of "suspicious packages" at night were the major security concerns on the day before the Democratic National Convention.

A black suitcase downtown, a green trash bag on Franklin Street, an unattended backpack in Cambridge and an empty shoe box at a downtown subway station were among the dozen incidents bomb squads responded to on Sunday night.

A bomb squad also was called to 60 State Street where some of the biggest movers and shakers in the Democratic Party - including President Bill Clinton and his wife, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. - were attending a party.

But that scare, like the others, turned out to be nothing of concern. People looked on in curiosity rather than fear, as law enforcement went out their business.

The number of calls was high, probably because people are being more vigilant, said Boston police spokeswoman Nadine Taylor-Miller.

"People have been told to be a little more aware of their surroundings," she said. "People are asking 'Why is this trashbag here?'"

Bomb squads responded to every call, the same as they would even if there was no convention in town, Taylor-Miller said.

"These are the kinds of things that we're prepared for. It's post 9-11. These are the things that we deal with now," she said.

Responding to the extra calls was not extra work, but was expected and built into plans for policing the convention, said Taylor-Miller, who added, "That's part of the job."

Police patrolled the perimeter of City Hall Plaza during an evening Boston Pops concert as helicopters rattled overhead.

The epicenter of the security was the FleetCenter, where the four-day convention will be held. Camouflaged military police officers staked out the elevated subway lines overlooking the building, while bomb-sniffing dogs and officers roamed nearby streets.

Metal barricades, about 7-feet high, were placed along some of the nearby streets to block and direct foot traffic.

An estimated 3,000 demonstrators - most protesting the war in Iraq - gathered about a half mile away, on Boston Common, a grassy park not far from candidate John F. Kerry's Beacon Hill town house. They marched from there past the FleetCenter, through City Hall Plaza and back to the Common.

Another 1,000 anti-abortion activists gathered at historic Faneuil Hall for a rally. Some of them later marched toward the FleetCenter, crossing paths with the anti-war march. The confrontation was brief and mostly peaceful.

The protests resulted in one arrest. Another protester was detained for questioning by the Secret Service, and later released.

State highway officials were planning for Monday's shutdown of Interstate 93, a major highway that runs just feet from the FleetCenter, where 4,350 delegates will convene Monday through Thursday to nominate Kerry.

---

Associated Press Writer Steve Leblanc contributed to this report.


The "Demonstration Zone" at the Democratic National Convention:
An "Irretrievably Sad" Affront to the First Amendment
By Michael Avery

t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Sunday 25 July 2004
Demonstrators who want to be within sight and sound of the delegates entering and leaving the Democratic National Convention at the Fleet Center in Boston this coming week will be forced to protest in a special "demonstration zone" adjacent to the terminal where buses carrying the delegates will arrive. The zone is large enough only for 1000 persons to safely congregate and is bounded by two chain link fences separated by concrete highway barriers. The outermost fence is covered with black mesh that is designed to repel liquids. Much of the area is under an abandoned elevated train line. The zone is covered by another black net which is topped by razor wire. There will be no sanitary facilities in the zone and tables and chairs will not be permitted. There is no way for the demonstrators to pass written materials to the convention delegates.

The federal judge who heard a challenge to the demonstration zone by protest groups on July 22d stated in open court, "I, at first, thought before taking the view [of the site] that the characterizations of the space as being like an internment camp were litigation hyperbole. I now believe that it's an understatement. One cannot conceive of what other elements you would put in place to make a space more of an affront to the idea of free expression ..." Despite that, the judge denied the groups' challenge to the conditions and ruled that they were justified by concerns about the safety of the convention delegates. The hearing on the case and the judge's ruling contain important lessons about what has happened to freedom of speech during the War on Terror.

Following the lead of Attorney General Ashcroft, law enforcement officials in the United States have taken two steps that have been devastating to the exercise of free speech rights. First, principles and tactics that arguably, but only arguably, may sometimes be appropriate with respect to the conduct of war or the prevention of terrorism are now routinely employed with respect to ordinary law enforcement. Second, the focus has shifted from the punishment of people who have committed crimes to a strategy that pretends to be able to prevent crime. Taken together these steps have the consequence that not only those who have committed crimes are subject to control by law enforcement. Those who fall into general categories of people who are suspected of having the potential to commit criminal acts may also be monitored, physically controlled and in certain cases, detained, by law enforcement.

In Boston the police have no specific information that individual people or groups plan to assault convention delegates. Of course, if such acts did occur, the number of law enforcement agents scheduled to take the streets in Boston is more than sufficient to apprehend and prosecute anyone who would commit such an assault. The justification for the demonstration zone, however, is that such assaults must be prevented before they happen. There is no evidence that they may happen beyond what the judge characterized as the "generic experience of the past several years at such events." Everyone who plans to protest is assumed to be someone who may throw rocks and urine at delegates, or who would break up tables and chairs to obtain weapons to attack delegates or police.

On three occasions during the hearing, and once again while announcing his decision, the Judge referred to the plaintiffs who brought the case to complain about the demonstration area as the "defendants." It does not take a psychoanalyst to know that this slip of the tongue has meaning. The fact is that with no evidence whatsoever those who would protest close to the site of the Convention have already been convicted of being up to no good.

This approach represents a major shift in values in our criminal justice system and the principles that protect rights of free expression. The criminal justice issues were appreciated by my twelve year old daughter who attended the court proceedings with me. "Dad," she whispered during the hearing, "I thought you were innocent until proven guilty. That doesn't seem to be what the judge is doing here."

The shift in First Amendment law can be appreciated by comparing the judge's ruling on the DNC demonstration zone with the Supreme Court's decision in 1969 in the Tinker case where it upheld the right of children to wear black arm bands to school to protest the Vietnam War. The school officials had argued that the arm bands would lead to disruption of the educational process. The Supreme Court rejected the argument, holding that "undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression." In Boston, as in the Tinker case, the authorities have no evidence beyond an "undifferentiated fear" of trouble.

In other cases the Supreme Court has recognized that the First Amendment requires "breathing room." Where the government is forced to interfere with free expression in order to further other legitimate state interests, the interference should be as limited as possible in order to avoid "chilling" the willingness of people to engage in free speech. The demonstration zone in Boston, on the other hand, is a walk in freezer for free speech. Experienced protestors will avoid the humiliation of being subjected to the conditions in this zone, and less experienced citizens who might wish to convey some message to convention delegates will be too terrified by the netting and razor wire to go anywhere near the site. I shudder to think what message is conveyed to children like my daughter about the possibilities for free expression in this country.

In his decision the judge said that he found it "irretrievably sad" that circumstances required the conditions in the demonstration zone. Of course, the court was free to decide that the government had not proven that the conditions were necessary and a more intrepid judge would have done so. What is genuinely "irretrievably sad" is that the judicial branch has accepted so uncritically the demands of the security arm of the state and that one of the lessons of this convention is that the First Amendment is now in urgent need of a life support system to survive.

Michael Avery is the President of the National Lawyers Guild and a constitutional law professor at Suffolk Law School in Boston. 





Convention site locked down tight
Air monitors, retinal scans -- and no trash cans -- are part of security plan.


Security personnel were on the lookout Saturday on Causeway Street near Boston's FleetCenter, where double barricades have been set up in preparation for the convention. -- Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press


By Mary Beth Schneider
mary.beth.schneider@indystar.com
July 25, 2004


BOSTON -- The first thing Democrats arriving in Boston see are the smiles of the volunteers welcoming them to this city's first national political convention.

The second are the police, military and other security forces, who have transformed this convention town into a fortress.

Barricades, razor-wire fences and dog patrols ring the FleetCenter, where Democrats will meet Monday through Thursday to nominate Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts for president.

Security agents loaded with sophisticated equipment disguised in backpacks monitored air quality in that area, on the lookout for radiological, biological and chemical attacks.

Air Force Maj. Eric Butterbaugh, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., said fighter pilots would be on patrol over Boston.

Litter is everywhere on the sidewalks surrounding the FleetCenter. There's nowhere to put it. Trash cans have been removed from that area.

But there are many gray rubber trash cans at the security gates.

During a light rainfall Saturday, those cans were filled with umbrellas and other items confiscated from people seeking entry into the center, most of them members of the news media.

Thousands of delegates, journalists and political dignitaries will have descended on Boston by tonight, when welcoming parties for state delegations will be held.

Purses, backpacks and computers weren't merely scanned -- they were unzipped, unbuckled, every pocket opened and every item inside inspected.

Karen Horseman, a former Indianapolis City-County Council member who is a delegate, said police were patrolling the hallways as she attended a credentials committee meeting in a hotel.

Perry Secrest, an Indianapolis attorney vacationing in Boston, said there were military officers, dressed in camouflage, patrolling on a subway train he rode.

Electronic and wooden signs warned motorists along the highways of closures. About 40 miles of highway leading into and out of the city will be closed from afternoon into the evening during the convention proceedings.

The city sits on Boston Harbor, and its waterways also were under tight security.

Convention delegates and others have been warned not to roam without their hotel keys, because they can't get back into the hotel without them.

Dan Parker, executive director of the Indiana Democratic Party, said one high-tech hotel was even using a retinal scan to screen people entering its doors.

Mike Harmless, chairman of the Indiana delegation, said he will receive a "walk-through" of the FleetCenter today so he can brief Indiana delegates on what to expect Monday, when most of them will get their first look at the convention locale.

But, he said, he had known that in a nation so much more aware of terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, security concerns -- always high at conventions -- would reach new levels.

"We knew it would be like this. We could tell that it was going to be dramatically increased from (the 2000 convention in) Los Angeles, where I thought it was very secure," Harmless said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


What ever happened to the "Land of the Free"  guess it is all behind the barbed wire .....-
  "Cameras, monitored in Washington, D.C., by the Department of Homeland Security, can be seen on many street corners in the soft zone."

  Free Speech Behind the Razor Wire
  By Mark Baard, Wired News
  July 27, 2004

  BOSTON -- The estimated 5,000 protesters at the Democratic National Convention this week have so far bumped heads over their political differences. In some cases, they have even barred one another from their scheduled (and permitted) events.

  But activists have been largely united in one civil action: their boycott of the so-called free-speech zone carved out by the U.S. Secret Service and local authorities, the only spot where protesters will be able to shout their messages to the delegates arriving on buses in a nearby parking lot.

  The protesters are also coordinating actions outside the free-speech zone by sending text messages on their wireless phones. Some protesters for a short time Monday converted the zone into a mock prison camp by donning hoods and marching in the cage with their hands behind their backs.

  The protest zone, which most people here simply call "the cage," is beneath an elevated section of disused subway tracks near a newly paved bus parking lot.

  Activists say the zone resembles the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

  The zone, surrounded by two layers of chain link fences mounted on Jersey barriers, draped with black mesh and topped with razor wire, violates the protesters' free-speech rights, said a legal observer for the Boston chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

  "You can't have free speech inside a prison," said the observer, Tony Naro, a recent college graduate who plans to start law school this fall.

  Observers like Naro attend rallies and marches to record incidents where the authorities appear to be violating the protesters' constitutional rights.

  Naro noted that when the Boston Police union was planning to protest at the DNC over a contract dispute with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, "there was no talk of putting them into a free-speech zone. It's the people with the guns who get to have free speech."

  On Tuesday, a sole, potbellied protester shouted into a microphone on a makeshift stage provided by the city. Right-to-lifers also crashed the place and covered the area with anti-abortion slogans, thinking the area would see more foot traffic.

  But audience members, who have been almost exclusively reporters and photographers, must stand in the line of sight of the loudspeakers mounted along the steel beams overhead. Delegates on the other side of the fence will have a hard time hearing anything.

  The Black Tea Society, an anarchist group, as well as the National Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union, have all sued to either uncage the free-speech zone, or move it closer to the delegates. But all of those efforts failed, and "the fence stays," said Boston Police Department spokeswoman Beverly Ford.

  Anarchists are also wary of being tracked by the cameras mounted in the cage. Most have gotten the message, through wireless text messaging, websites and word of mouth, to avoid the cage and the surrounding Boston Police-patrolled "soft zone," which is immediately outside the "hard zone," an area controlled by the uniformed division of the Secret Service.

  Cameras, monitored in Washington, D.C., by the Department of Homeland Security, can be seen on many street corners in the soft zone.

  Protesters will thus be scarce through the soft zone.

  "The word is to avoid any area that is fenced in," said Naro.

  http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,64349,00.html


A demonstrator is subdued by police during a protest near the FleetCenter Thursday, July 29, 2004 in Boston. The final day of the Democratic National Convention brought the first confrontation between police and protesters. Several hundred demonstrators converged in an area on Canal Street -- near the FleetCenter but outside of the fenced-in 'free speech zone.' (AP Photo/Patricia McDonnell)

Boston Police Deal With DNC Protesters
 
Thu Jul 29, 3:43 PM ET

By ADAM GORLICK, Associated Press Writer

BOSTON - After three days of calm, protests turned ugly at the Democratic National Convention as demonstrators burned a two-faced effigy depicting President Bush (news - web sites) on one side and Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites) on the other.

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One protester wearing a black hood was dragged from the crowd and detained by police. It was not immediately clear whether he was being arrested or what he had done. Streets near the FleetCenter were being barricaded by police.

Police and protesters alike worked to keep the demonstrations peaceful Thursday, despite warnings that some groups might use violence to capture the attention of the large audience on the last day of the convention.

After four problem-free days, police prepared for a surge in spontaneous street protests. The Boston-area Bl(A)ck Tea Society, an ad hoc group of self-described anarchists and anti-authority activists that formed a year ago to stage protests at the convention, called for "decentralized direct action" Thursday.

The group does not advocate violence but encourages demonstrators to hold street protests regardless of whether they have secured permits from the city.

Bl(A)ck Tea members joined with anti-war groups in a march that began in Copley Square shortly after noon and quickly grew into the largest demonstration since thousands of anti-war and anti-abortion protesters greeted delegates on Sunday as they arrived in the city.

The crowd, estimated at around 400 people, looped through the city's Financial District before heading toward the FleetCenter. They were accompanied by about 100 police officers wearing helmets and carrying shields. Seven protesters with hoods tied themselves to a police barricade.

When they arrived outside the fenced-in demonstration zone near the FleetCenter, the protesters set fire to a two-faced effigy one side showing Bush, the other Kerry. As it burned, the protesters stomped on the puppet, while others burned copies of Bush's autobiography.

Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole ordered police tactical teams out in force Thursday, as they have been throughout the week.

State police Lt. Col. Jack Kelly said Thursday's police deployment was the biggest in recent Boston history.



 

 

 

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