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NYPD Agrees Not To Use “Pens” At Republican National Convention Demonstration

As a result of negotiations with the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the group Not In Our Name, the NYPD has agreed not to use “pens” at the group’s demonstration at the Republican National Convention. The NYPD also agreed not to conduct generalized searches at that same demonstration. The protest march by Not In Our Name is scheduled to take place outside Madison Square Garden on the evening of Thursday, September 2 — the night President Bush is expected to accept the Republican nomination.

“This is an important step towards eliminating NYPD practices that needlessly restrict protest activity,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. “We welcome this agreement by the NYPD and hope that it marks the beginning of the end of the Department’s use of pens.”

The NYPD’s use of interlocking metal barricades to confine demonstrators at rallies has been a source of great concern in the protest community for years. Not In Our Name had sought to conduct a march rather than a rally during the Convention specifically to avoid having pens used at its event. When the NYPD initially balked at the march for security concerns and offered a stationary rally outside Madison Square Garden, the group said it would agree to the proposal only if the NYPD agreed not to use pens and not to search people seeking to attend the rally. Last week the NYPD agreed to both requests.

NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, who negotiated this arrangement with the NYPD on behalf of Not In Our Name, said, “Being trapped in a police pen is a miserable experience for protesters, and even the NYPD now recognizes that pens are unnecessary. This agreement is good for protesters and good for the police department.”

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