The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: ACLU of San Diego Looks at Rights of Protesters During Weeklong Biotech Conference

June 27, 2001 12:00 am

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SAN DIEGO–The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties today issued an initial assessment of how civil liberties fared during the demonstrations and other activities associated with this week’s conference of the biotechnology industry.

The report expressed concern that San Diego may have become a city where people do not feel comfortable engaging in First Amendment activities.

“San Diego should not be sending the message that while the welcome mat is out for conventioneers, there is a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door for those who want to exercise their constitutional rights,” said ACLU of San Diego Executive Director Linda Hills.

“The constitution requires a balance between public safety and free and open public debate. Unfortunately, some civic leaders seem to consider it a good thing that so few people participated in peaceful and lawful free speech activities,” she added.

The assessment, titled “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” is mixed. While order was maintained and no large scale violations of constitutional rights occurred, police may have stepped over the constitutional line by targeting anti-biotech activists based solely on their political beliefs and by conduct which was designed to discourage people from exercising their First Amendment rights.

The ACLU’s three-page report, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” is online at www.aclusandiego.org.

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