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‘Jumbotron protest’ group going to court this afternoon

The protest group that was denied a permit to use a Jumbotron television screen near the state Capitol to broadcast anti-Republican messages during next week’s convention has filed suit, alleging its rights to free speech have been trampled.

The request for a temporary restraining order will be heard this afternoon by Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin, who has handled many of the cases of protesters wanting more access to the Republican National Convention site and delegates.

Earlier this week, the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board turned down a variance for the big TV, which was to be placed in the park at John Ireland and Kellogg boulevards, between the Capitol and the Cathedral of St. Paul. The board is chaired by Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, a Republican.

On a tie vote, the variance was denied; opponents, including Molnau, said there were safety issues with the moving pictures and there was concern that allowing it might set a bad precedent for using similar big TVs in front of the Capitol during contentious legislative debates.

But the protest group, True Blue Minnesota, claims the variance was denied because Molnau and others disapproved the content, which would highlight the group’s opposition to the “policies and record of the Republican Administration on the Iraq War, torture, civil liberties and corruption.” — Joe Kimball

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