Monday, September 25, 2006

World Can't Wait News Conference

The organizers of the World Can't Wait protest in San Francisco held a press conference this afternoon on the steps of City Hall. The focus of the briefing was the San Francisco Police Department's foot-dragging on issuing permits for the protest march and rally. First, the permits were flat-out denied. Then the rally was given a permit, although it was moved from Union Square (an upscale shopping area) to Justin Herman Plaza (at the end of Market Street, near the Ferry Building), but the permit for the march was denied because of unspecified "homeland security concerns." Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are most assiduously protected when the speech and assembly are political in nature, since those two freedoms form the bedrock of democracy, but, despite having had two previous World Can't Wait protests come off smoothly, the SFPD still feels that the group is somehow a threat to public safety.

The most alarming bit of news at the press conference was that some unknown person telephoned the office of San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and told him that his presence at the briefing was no longer necessary, apparently because the issue was supposedly resolved. Supervisor Chris Daly made an appearance, along with Carlos Villareal from the National Lawyers Guild.

After the press conference, the SFPD met again with World Can't Wait organizers, who presented a revised plan for the march (reflecting the revised location of the rally, among other things). The SFPD is reviewing the proposed route and other details, but World Can't Wait expects the permit to be issued Tuesday. The rally will begin at noon on Thursday, 2006-10-05, at Justin Herman Plaza, adjacent to the Embarcadero BART station. Some time around 4 p.m., speakers will begin introducing a tribunal to hold a mock trial of George W. Bush for war crimes. Speakers and musical performances will continue through the evening until about 9 p.m. There will be an overnight vigil at Justin Herman Plaza, followed by a press conference at 9 a.m. on Friday, 2006-10-06. Further details of the march route and the lineup of speakers and performers will be available shortly.

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