The following are some logistical details regarding the presence of President Barack Obama in Columbus, Ohio on Friday March 6, 2009. Sources include the Columbus Dispatch and calls to the Office of the Mayor of Columbus, Michael Coleman.
Time: The police academy graduation around which Barack Obama’s visit is organized will take place beginning at 10:25 am on March 6. The president himself will arrive at the airport at about 10:30 am and will leave at about 1:00 pm.
Place: The Aladdin Shrine Center, a large public meeting space with a sizeable auditorium, at 3850 Stelzer Road, near the Easton Town Center shopping mall in northeastern Columbus, just off of the Route 270 beltway. Coming from the north or south on 270, take exit 33 (Easton Way) and travel west a block or two until you reach Stelzer Road. Easton Town Center mall lies just beyond Stelzer to the west and north, which is likely to be the only place where parking willl be available.
A satellite picture of the area, with the Aladdin Shrine Center identified:
Weather: In the upper 50s, which is reasonably warm for the first week of March in Central Ohio. A 30% chance of precipitation, so bring a poncho just in case.
Access: The police academy graduation itself will be closed to the public. The Aladdin Shrine Center itself is off of Stelzer Road by about thirty feet, or so, but there are long stretches of sidewalk on both sides of the street. Well-wishers and protesters may find public access on these sidewalks, and they should, but as a practical matter they may not. Two staff members of the Mayor’s Office have indicated that as on Wednesday, March 4 there has been no communication from the White House about public access to the route or the vicinity of Stelzer Road. In their words, public access “is Secret Service driven,” and “the White House controls all this.”
Stelzer Road on the north side of the Aladdin center, showing plenty of room on both sides of the street:
Stelzer Road on the south side of the Aladdin center, showing again plenty of room on both sides of the street:
Protest: As I have indicated, I will be there personally to hand out a large number of free posters containing the text of the Bill of Rights and to hold a sign asking President Barack Obama to respect the Bill of Rights. Attorney General Eric Holder will apparently also be in attendance at this event, making it an even more appropriate place to air citizens’ concerns regarding the place of civil liberty in an Obama administration.
Mine is a liberal protest against the policies of Barack Obama. Are there any conservative anti-Obama protests planned? The only reference I can find to one is by a “Palamino” who on an MSNBC news webpage refers to “Big demonstrations in Columbus OH this weekend against Obama. Stay tuned…”.
The large available amount of space on both sides of Stelzer Road, complete with public sidewalks and high visibility for security purposes, makes for an excellent free speech and free assembly test under the young Obama administration.
On access issues, after contacting and getting no response (or forwarding to unrelated phone numbers) from the office of the Mayor of Columbus, I made the fortunate choice of contacting the ACLU of Ohio. The ACLU of Ohio made a few calls and has received assurances from the city attorney that political demonstrations WILL be allowed to proceed on the sidewalk on Stelzer Road, on both sides of the street, north and south of the Aladdin Shrine Center.
To help spread word of organizational details for liberal political protest of Barack Obama’s unconstitutional policy priorities, please feel free to link to this press release, an announcement of the Bill of Rights demonstration at Progress Ohio, and the demonstration’s facebook page.
I will continue to update this web page with any available information on President Obama’s visit.