Hamm's Plaza demonstration permits revoked for RNC

Protesters who secured permits several months ago to gather at a downtown plaza during the Republican National Convention will have to find a new location.

The city of St. Paul sent letter to groups this week saying that Hamm's Plaza, near the Landmark Center, is no longer available because of security reasons.

Parks and recreation spokesman Brad Meyer says the decision to retract the permits came after a recent discussion with the police department.

"The proximity of the park to the convention is too close for their comfort, and they want to make sure that it's safe and secure for all the convention-goers and visitors," Meyer said.

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Hamm's Plaza is just a few blocks away from the Xcel Energy Center, site of the Republican National Convention. One demonstrator whose permit was pulled says he will challenge the city in court. Park permits were first issued in March.

The city has offered the groups alternate locations of Mears Park, Ecolab Plaza and John Ireland Triangle Park. Officials plan to announce more details about the security perimeters for downtown St. Paul as early as Monday.

Ben Plunkett of River Falls, Wisc., had reserved Hamm's Plaza for Sept. 3 and 4. He and his friends are planning to use the park to speak out against torture, government spying and the costs of military spending. Plunkett says he may fight the city in court to win back his right to gather in the park.

"That permit was issued, and I sought legal counsel and will pursue all avenues to guarantee my right to free speech," said Plunkett.