Minneapolis passes demonstration ordinance for RNC

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Officials from St. Paul and Minneapolis welcomed a group from the Republican National Committee in 2006.
MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik

The Minneapolis City Council has adopted an ordinance regulating demonstrations during this fall's Republican National Convention.

The new law sets up a first-come, first-served basis to allow groups of 50 or more to register with the city to demonstrate in areas where they can block sidewalks or crosswalks.

Opponents of the measure say it will restrict the free speech rights of groups who don't register first.

But proponents of the law, like council member Betsy Hodges, say it will help avoid conflict if two groups show up at the same spot at the same time.

"I don't believe the implications of this policy is one that infringes on free speech, and so then I have to think to myself, which is what I've been doing, 'Is this the policy I want for this city?' " Hodges said. "The answer is 'yes.' It gives us a tool in the toolbox to ensure that a very important event in our city, goes well."

The new ordinance will only apply to the week before and the week of the convention.