Planned Parenthood, NYC Police At OddsOver GOP Convention Protests
by Steven Ertelt
June 16, 2004
New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — Activist groups, including Planned Parenthood, are at odds with New York City police concerning protests at the Republican convention in August, where President Bush will be nominated to run for another term.
In a press conference, the groups accused police officials of taking too long to issue protest permits to those that want to march outside of Madison Square Garden, where the convention will be held.
However, the New York police department said it set Tuesday as the deadline for permits and that everyone interested in protesting should have understood that permits wouldn’t considered until this week.
"We did not anticipate issuing any permits until we had an opportunity to see the whole universe of applications," Paul Browne, the department’s deputy commissioner for public information, told the Star-Ledger newspaper. "And everybody knew that."
Browne said the groups are attempting to make it appear the police department will revoke the First Amendment rights of protesters, when it is concerned about safety and terrorism threats.
Approximately a dozen groups, including the nation’s largest abortion business, have asked for permits. Planned Parenthood has endorsed likely Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
Earlier this month, pro-life groups dropped a lawsuit they filed saying their First Amendment freedoms were being violated as a result of regulations put in place regarding protests at the Democratic convention.
The lawsuit was dropped after the city agreed with representatives of the Christian Defense Coalition and Operation Rescue to simplify the protest permit process and loosen the restrictions somewhat.
The city had originally put in place a three-step process organizations must go through to obtain valid permits to protest.
Groups had to submit an application to the Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing, obtain permits from other appropriate city departments, and then wait on approval from the licensing office.
Applications were due 14 days before the protest.
But representatives of the pro-life groups said that would prevent them from engaging in so called "spontaneous protests" — counterprotests of events organizers learn of days or hours beforehand.