There are so many events happening around Denver…
It is a beautiful day here. I have been walking the city talking to everyday folks about the convention, how they are dealing with the invasion of 50,000 extra “residents,” and recording their reactions. I am typing this in Civic Center Park where a very large protest against the war is scheduled. I know I am in the right place. It seems that someone forgot to send me a memo. Instead of protestors, I am sitting across from mounted riot police in full, intimidating gear.
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Not only that, the park is fully secured, surrounded by a chain link fence keeping all out. The proverbial “they” are saying that it is because the foodie festival “Taste of Denver” is being set up for the weekend, but the locals I spoke with insist the preparations are way earlier than usual.
I spoke with several wandering souls who were walking up and down the downtown streets looking for the action. Some of the most interesting I had the chance to talk with were a group of high school students who were covered in peace pins and pink stickers that read “Make Out, Not War.” (Love that). Note: Being the mom of a teenager, I sure am not promoting "making out!"
The teens and I were standing in the park watching the riot police (looking like escapees from the cast of Robocop) and watching people’s reaction, when one of the students, a 15 year old boy named Chris said, “Man, when the government messes with that free speech thing, it’s just way un-cool. “ Yeah, Chris you’re right. It is way un-cool in a big way.
Yesterday, the police and protestors clashed resulting in over 100 arrests. Those arrested faced charges for violating city ordinances including failure to obey a lawful order, obstructing a public roadway and interference. Pepper spray was also used on a few protestors .
This past Monday, an 80 year old man walking from the library to the bus stop was gassed and cuffed by officers, although he had nothing to do with the protests or confrontations. Yep, 80 years old. Go here for the full story: http://www.myfoxcolorado.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail?contentId=7296208&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=1.1.1
I completely understand the need for intense security during the convention – especially this convention. But you know, I get suspicious when 80 year old men are gassed, and chain link fences surround pre-arranged protest areas without warning.
There were concerns back in May of this year when the ACLU of Colorado successfully sued to protect protestor’s constitutional rights when requests for parade permits were going unanswered and denied.
So now, I am going back out on the streets to find the peaceful protests and marchers. There are many, but I just have to keep searching.
I will keep you posted.