Judge to deploy U.S. marshals to ensure access isn't blocked to convention site

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    Lefty Wilbury Active Member

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    Judge to deploy U.S. marshals to ensure access isn't blocked to convention site
    By Associated Press
    Thursday, June 10, 2004

    BOSTON - A federal judge on Thursday said he would deploy U.S. marshals to ensure that access isn't blocked by picketing Boston police officers to the FleetCenter, where construction crews have been trying to get inside to ready it for next month's Democratic National Convention.

    U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro said the marshals would serve as his eyes and ears and report back to him with any violations of an order he issued last week that allowed police to peacefully hand out leaflets protesting their contract talks with the city, but without also preventing construction workers from getting inside the building.

    For two consecutive days, many of those workers turned away when confronted by angry officers carrying banners and yelling. The officers have been working without a contract for about two years.

    ``I don't want to hear about efforts to intimidate people. I would consider that a violation of the court order,'' Tauro said. He added later, ``This is what I expect, no blocking. I made that very clear, no blocking. You make sure that everyone you represent understands that there should be no blocking at all.''

    Only about a dozen union laborers and carpenters reported to work Wednesday, on the second day of scheduled construction to convert the FleetCenter from a sports arena to a convention hall.

    Democrats from around the country plan to convene July 26 for a four-day convention to nominate Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry [related, bio] for president.

    The $14 million project includes connecting phone lines and removing seats to accommodate a large stage for the featured speakers.

    Police union officials have said they were not violating Tauro's order because, they contended, the street where construction vehicles were unable to travel was not part of the judge's order and was a public street.

    But Tauro said Thursday that public areas around the FleetCenter should be passable - and that it's up to the uniformed officers working there to make sure their off-duty brethren don't interfere with traffic.

    Tauro started off the hearing by calling it ``no ordinary labor dispute'' because it involves police officers.

    ``What I believe is that we owe great respect to the police. ... But the police have to earn the respect,'' he said.

    It was not immediately known when the marshals would be deployed.

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