No to APEC Coalition Calls on San Francisco City Officials to Defend Free Speech and Right to Protest at APEC Summit

The No to APEC Coalition Calls on San Francisco City Officials to Defend Free Speech and Right to Protest at APEC Summit

Mayor London Breed and Secret Service to Announce Security Plans and Exclusion Zone for APEC  on October 18 

SAN FRANCISCO- The No to APEC Coalition demands immediate action by Mayor London Breed, the federal government, and all San Francisco elected officials to reaffirm long standing support for civil and human rights, rights to free speech, protest, and dissent during the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) “Economic Leaders’ Week” and “CEO Summit,” in November 11-18, 2023.

“The Department of Homeland Security has designated the APEC Summit as a ‘National Special Security Event.’ The Secret Service is creating a protest exclusion zone around the Moscone Center, where the event will take place, which threatens to prevent the public from exercising its First Amendment right to protest within sight and sound of the APEC and CEO summit delegates. The constitutional right to come together, speak out, and be heard must not be repressed under the pretext of security. We will be preparing legal action as necessary to fight for the people’s rights to free speech and assembly,” said Center for Protest Law and Litigation attorney Rachel Lederman.

“This declaration in effect militarizes San Francisco and puts local police under the overall control of the Secret Service.  The declaration of the summit to be ‘a potential target for a terrorist attack or civil disruption’  is a deliberate attempt to criminalize and chill the exercise of our constitutionally protected rights to free expression and protest. This reflects a dangerous, increasingly common trend by federal, state and local authorities throughout the country and internationally to discourage and repress dissent through intensified surveillance, censorship, and criminalization of peoples’ right to protest,” said Camilo Pérez-Bustillo, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild – San Francisco, a member organization of the national No to APEC Coalition.

The “No to APEC Coalition,” is working to oppose APEC’s promotion of reducing wages, destruction of the environment, and extraction of resources for corporate profit. APEC promotes neoliberal “free trade” policies which have systematically violated human rights globally, imposed by authoritarian governments such as that of the Philippines and Perú which will be participants in the upcoming summit. Victims of these regimes reside here and are vulnerable to reprisal by their apparatuses of repression. The coalition, of over 100 organizations, includes unions, environmental justice organizations, migrant and diasporic communities from countries that are part of APEC, and more.

“From Indonesia to Ecuador to the Philippines and now to San Francisco, people all over the world have protested APEC since its inception because of the role it plays in exploiting workers and the environment. As we approach the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this December, we urge the City to stand with the people and free speech over profit and harsh repression. Mayor Breed should not betray San Francisco’s legacy as a sanctuary city and champion of rights by sweeping away unsheltered, immigrant and other vulnerable residents inside the ‘exclusion zone’ for the sake of hosting APEC’s lavish, weeklong summit in the South of Market,” said Rhonda Ramiro, Chair of the International League of People’s Struggle-US and a  convener of the No to APEC Coalition.


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