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Protest group wins reprieve to set up big TV at convention

  • August 29, 2008 - 9:16 PM

Protest group True Blue Minnesota will get to set up its 20-by-30-foot television screen at Triangle Park near the Xcel Energy Center during the Republican National Convention -- at least through Tuesday, Ramsey County District Judge Kathleen Gearin said Friday.

True Blue had received a permit from the city of St. Paul but the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board refused to issue a variance, citing safety concerns. Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, a Republican, heads the board and cast the deciding vote.

The protest group said the board's decision was based on content, not safety, and violated its right to free speech. The group filed a motion for a temporary injunction and argued it Friday afternoon. Gearin did not rule on the group's motion Friday, but stayed enforcement of the variance until both sides submit further evidence. Gearin's decision is not expected until Tuesday or Wednesday.

True Blue said it will set up the Jumbotron on Sunday afternoon. It plans to show documentaries, art, photographs and posters with an antiwar and anti-GOP theme.

Also on Friday, Gearin refused to reinstate permits for the Welfare Rights Committee and Benjamin J. Plunkett to protest next week at the Hamm's Plaza in downtown St. Paul.

Plunkett and the committee had requested a temporary injunction after the city revoked their permits for protests on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Police say that when the permit was issued to the committee, they were unaware President Bush would be coming to St. Paul on Sept. 1.

Gearin said the revocation "will not result in denying plaintiffs all opportunity to protest in Hamm's Plaza" as it will be open to pedestrians and groups of up to 25.

PAT PHEIFER

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