Challenging the Convention Convention
This morning, I was the only Council Member to vote against a resolution indicating the City's interest in hosting the 2012 Democratic National Convention. I wanted to explain some of my reasoning.
I have nothing against the DNC. Though I am not a member of that party, I wish them all the best. However, I want to challenge the conventional thinking that major party conventions are a net positive for our city. I have not seen any evidence that the positive impacts of hosting these conventions outweigh the negative impacts and stresses that accompany them.
More importantly, I am deeply uncomfortable with the way that security is handled at major party conventions. During the RNC in 2008, Minneapolis was forced (in order to host the convention) to give up local control of our police force and subordinate them to a security plan that we could not see or impact in any way. I voted against giving this power away as well, and was one of only two Council Members to do so. The convention security agreements led to preemptive raids on Second Ward residents - initiated by the Ramsey County Sheriff - inappropriate and ill-advised crackdowns on peaceful protests, and other suspensions of civil liberties. I cannot in good conscience welcome another national major party convention to our city until and unless the approach to security – and the balance between security and free speech – changes significantly.