Anti-abortion groups impatient for convention protest permits |

Anti-abortion groups impatient for convention protest permits


DENVER – Two anti-abortion groups are prodding the city to start granting protest permits for this summer’s Democratic National Convention and are threatening lawsuits over their First Amendment rights.They say a delay in getting permits keeps them from preparing for the demonstrations they plan, and they accuse the Denver city attorney of squelching their free speech rights”One of the key things for any presidential convention, both Republican and Democrat, should be the celebration of free speech,” said the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney of the Washington-based Christian Defense Coalition.Mahoney’s group, along with the California-based Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, are planning anti-abortion demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention in August.Mahoney said he was dismayed to learn last year that Denver would not issue permits for 14 city parks, including the prominent Civic Center between the state Capitol and the City-County Building, until a new system was devised.Mahoney said the news “stunned and troubled us because we were in essence told that we would not have these parks and there was no timetable” for when they could get permits.Mahoney said the groups have been waiting to hear from the city about the new application process since Nov. 1 – the date when the city was to issue permits for the following year.Officials from the city attorney’s office did not immediately return a call.Mahoney said both religious groups planned to meet with city officials later Wednesday. He said if they don’t reach an agreement, they would file suit in federal court Thursday.The events planned during the convention included prayer vigils and rallies, Mahoney said. In one event, Mahoney said 1,500 people would kneel around the Pepsi Center, where the convention will be held, pray for an end to abortion and leave a rose on the sidewalk.Danielle Versluys, a spokeswoman for Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, said in a written statement that her group hopes “the city will immediately cease this unnecessary suppression of free speech.”