No democracy in Denver
Cops attack protesters at DNC
Emergency news conference exposes gov’t terror
Published Aug 27, 2008 9:19 PM
Denver police have used violence and mass arrests in an attempt to silence
dissent during the Democratic National Convention. However, organizers and
activists have put the city and police on notice that their intimidation
tactics will not work.
Larry Hales from Recreate 68 Alliance and
FIST tells off Denver police. To his
John Parker from Los Angeles
Int’l Action Center.
Photos: Troops Out Now Coalition
Several hundred activists were gathered in Civic Center Park on Aug. 25, where
the Recreate 68 Alliance (Recreate68.org) has a permit for a week of actions
during the DNC. At about 6 p.m., Denver police began massing in groups,
encircling the park. Squads then began to march through the park, pushing and
kicking people as they passed. One group of heavily-armed police lined up
directly across from the Troops Out Now Coalition table.
At about 7:00, a group of mostly young people responded by chanting “No
justice, no peace!” The police charged the group, hitting several of them
with pepper spray. Attempting to get away from the club-swinging police, the
group moved onto Cleveland Street, joined by many others from the park.
Police then closed off both ends of the block, entrapping the group as well as
many bystanders. They began hitting people with their nightsticks and using
pepper spray and pepper balls.
Front banner at anti-war march in Denver,
One young protester, Martin, told the Denver Post, “We moved to the
sidewalk—a few people stayed in the street—because we didn’t
want a confrontation, but it didn’t matter. People started pleading:
‘Let me go. I want to go home.’ ...
“Some of the police on horses were whacking people with their batons. I
was told later that the police were telling us to disperse, but I didn’t
hear them say that. And where would we go? The police were all around us, not
letting us leave.”
TONC organizer and Navy veteran Dustin Langley was among those trapped on the
street between the police lines. He noted that spirits remained high, saying:
“Street medics took care of those who had been pepper sprayed, and we
shared water and made sure everyone was okay. We continued chanting and
singing. At one point, we sang ‘Solidarity Forever’. One group of
activists chanted at the cops: ‘Who do you protect? Who do you
After more than an hour, the solidarity of those on the streets and
negotiations by Recreate 68 organizers won the release of most of those trapped
on the block.
At least 85, however, were placed in metal shackles and arrested. They were
denied access to attorneys while at the detention center, and many were bullied
into making a guilty plea in order to get released. Martin said, “Now,
because of the plea bargain, I’m free but on probation. I can’t
join any more marches, or do anything illegal in the next six months, or
I’ll get five days in jail on top of the other charges.”
The next day the police continued their attempts to intimidate those protesting
the DNC. Heavily-armed police continued to mass around the park, and squads of
horse-mounted cops rode through the park several times.
At about 9 a.m., the right-wing bigot Fred Phelps entered the park, spewing a
homophobic hate speech. A Recreate 68 organizer, Carlo Garcia, told him to
leave. The Denver police responded by arresting Garcia, who has two brothers in
When Code Pink organizer Alicia Forrest questioned Garcia’s arrest, she
was knocked to the ground by police and arrested as well.
Organizers with the Recreate 68 Alliance and TONC called an emergency press
conference in front of police headquarters to take a public stand against these
tactics and respond to distortions in the corporate media, which portrayed the
protesters as the initiators of violence.
Glenn Spagnuolo, one of the cofounders of the Recreate 68 Alliance, put the
mayor, police chief and Denver Police Department on notice that he and other
organizers are meeting with attorneys to move forward with legal action. He
noted several major protest-related lawsuits, such as those in New York and
Washington, which have cost local governments millions of dollars.
Larry Hales, a leader of the Recreate 68 Alliance and of the youth group FIST
(Fight Imperialism Stand Together), noted that any violence that has occurred
was initiated by the Denver police. Recreate 68 demands all police be removed
from the park. Hales stated that since Recreate 68 has a permit to hold its
activity in the Civic Center Park, the police have no business there.
Other speakers at the press conference included Brian Vicente of the Peoples
Law Project; Ben Kaufman, who described the arrest of Carlo Garcia; Sally
Newman of Code Pink; and Mark Cohen, a Recreate 68 cofounder, who questioned
the role of the Democratic Party in suppressing civil liberties and attempting
to silence protest.
Following the press conference, organizers returned to Civic Center Park, where
they joined hundreds of activists from around the country determined to
continue in the spirit of resistance and protest.
More coverage and analysis on developments at the DNC as well as the
Republican National Convention will appear in upcoming WW issues.
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