Fw: National Lawyers Guild press release re: Jan. 20 lawsuit

Gary Wilson gary at SPAMwwpublish.com
Tue Jan 16 17:41:21 MST 2001

This message will be of interest to anyone going to Washington Jan. 20 to
join the protests at the inauguration parade. Because the police and Secret
Service have decided that everyone much go through a checkpoint gate to
enter the area and that they will decide who can and can't enter, a lawsuit
was filed today to protect the right to demonstrate. Here's the National
Lawyers Guild press release:

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 6:20 PM
Subject: National Lawyers Guild press release re: Jan. 20 lawsuit

Following is a press release from the National Lawyers Guild regarding
the lawsuit being filed by them and the Partnership for Civil Justice.
The lawsuit regards the free speech rights of demonstrators on
January 20.  It is entitled "International Action Center, et al vs. United
States government" and can be found on the web site of the
Partnership for Civil Justice at www.justiceonline.org (by 8 pm EST

Press Contacts:
National Lawyers Guild, National Office Heidi Boghosian, 212-627-2656,
ext. 11
Partnership for Civil Justice / NLG, DC Zachary Wolfe, 202-530-5630


Today, attorneys with the Partnership for Civil Justice have filed suit to
preserve the right of the people to demonstrate and express political
opinions on America's Main Street, Pennsylvania Avenue.  The National
Lawyers Guild is keenly aware of the dangerous trend that this lawsuit
seeks to counter, under which law enforcement responds to major
demonstrations with excessive police presence and tight and
unpredictable limitations on political speech, and we fully support this
legal action and the principles it seeks to uphold.

Comments by police agencies in the media and in letters to attorneys
for the demonstrators make clear that the government would prefer
that those with grievances against the government remain silent.  The
Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department has announced its
intention to deploy more police than during the IMF and World Bank
protests last April.  Police have stated that they are establishing
checkpoints to screen Inaugural Parade attendees, citing demonstrators
as the reason for taking this step. "This represents a continuation of an
unconstitutional crackdown on speech," said National Lawyers Guild
President Bruce Nestor.  "Since Seattle, the government has behaved
as if any expression of political dissent were a security threat.  To the
contrary, the crackdown and militarization of our streets is the real
threat to our democracy."

Supporters of the President-elect will be permitted to set up amplifiers
and platforms along Pennsylvania Avenue, while the government has
refused to allow demonstrators to do the same despite their offer to do
so well in advance of the Secret Service security check that will be
conducted on all structures.  Furthermore, there are no standards for
who will be denied entrance at the checkpoints, with police indicating to
some demonstrators that they will decide who and what to allow in "on
a case by case basis," which leaves grave concern that First
Amendment rights will not be fully considered.  "Guild lawyers and
other progressive attorneys must take action to remind the government
that the Constitutional right to demonstrate, which is fully protected by
the First Amendment, does not disappear just because there are
security concerns.  The lawsuit Partnership for Civil Justice and the NLG
filed today will force the government to strike a more appropriate
balance," said veteran civil rights
lawyer Arthur Kinoy, Professor of Law at Rutgers University.

The National Lawyers Guild has been in the service of the people since
1937, and stands behind the work of our members at the Partnership
for Civil Justice, co-founders Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and Carl
Messineo, and staff attorney Zachary Wolfe, National Vice President of
the NLG.  We will train and deploy over 100 legal observers on January
20 to monitor police activity and defend the rights of political protesters.

International Action Center
39 West 14th Street, Room 206
New York, NY 10011
email: iacenter at iacenter.org
web: http://www.iacenter.org
phone: 212 633-6646
fax:   212 633-2889
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