A WALK IN THE PARK

Posted: August 27, 2008 in A Walk in the Park: My Coverage of the 2008 DNC
A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE DEMOCRA(P)TIC NATIONAL CONVENTION
PART I:
Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?

Having been somewhat of a Capitol Hill fixture over the last five years, I thought I would be in a relatively good position to get a feel for the Democratic National Convention (DNC). After this week, I won’t be living in the city anymore, so I decided to spend my last week as a City of Denver resident smelling out the aire of the Mile High City during this national security event and how it is impacting the city. Since most of the “action” would be taking place in and around Civic Park, I could easily maneuver my way into the crowds and get the scoop, hence the title, “A Walk in the Park.” In addition to my centrality to the protest movement, my job at Auraria Campus would ensure that I could be close to the security perimeter and perhaps get some close-ups of the event.

At the college campus I work at, classes have been suspended and has been turned into a sweeping security perimeter, allowing parking access for the odd 2,000 delegates, with a ramped-up security force ranging from local cops to F.B.I., C.I.A., and Secret Service. Buildings and classrooms are locked down, as they are essentially at the doorstep of the Pepsi Center where the convention is taking place.

As the event kicked off on Monday, the police and other security forces present were prepared for the worst. An estimated 20,000 protesters were expected to maul their way through the selected parade route ending up at the designated “free-speech zone,” or as some like to call it, the “Freedom Cage.” Despite the anticipation, however, the number of protest participants numbered around 2,000. Other marches have been scheduled, but are mostly sparse and un-unified.

Word around the street is that the protesters didn’t want to be confined to a “free speech zone,” and had, at the last minute, tried to organize a walk through the trendy 16th St. pedestrian mall where, incidentally, they would have made much more of an impact. Security was formidable, however, and failing to obtain a proper permit, the scant protesters were forced to say their piece (peace) on the sidewalks after the parade route was re-opened to traffic. This had the effect of disorganizing the main movement and leaving a residue of rag-tag protesters that gathered in Denver’s Civic Park.

So with all of this hype built around these protesters and beefed-up security, the question that I have is: Where have all the cowboys gone? Where are the gunslingers, the shoot-from-the-hipsters, the new revolutionaries that pledged their fidelity towards civil disobedience? From my view, it was a pretty disappointing day for the tour de force that protest organizers were hoping for. One force that was present, however, was the police presence. And they have given assurance that they will continue to remain a very solid presence throughout the event, which has some citizens wondering if the saturation of cops is justifiable. The question is, are these cops there to serve and protect, or to deter the public from engaging in protests, peaceful or otherwise?

COMING NEXT: WHAT ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE PROTESTING, ANYWAY?

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