Wednesday, June 11, 2008

DNC: Protests every which way

The Rocky:

Protest groups are planning a full schedule of events throughout downtown Denver during the Democratic National Convention, from a rally outside the Denver Mint to a march to a federal courthouse and demonstrations outside parties and delegates' hotels.

The protesters will be advocating everything from an end to the war in Iraq to legalization of marijuana and immigrant rights.

One organizer says an anti-war march - a joint effort by several groups scheduled on the Aug. 24 eve of the convention - could draw 25,000 people.

Other events are expected to attract between 1,000 and 10,000, according to requests for permits filed with the city.

"I think all over the country people will be watching what's happening in Denver," said Judith LeBlanz, national organizing coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, a coalition that drew 500,000 people to protest the war in Iraq before the 2004 Republican National Convention.

The city won't announce which groups get permits for parades - or permission to use an alternate route - until June 19. . . .

"There's a huge opportunity all over the city to do something," City Attorney David Fine said Tuesday. "If that is done peacefully and legally, no one should have a problem."

The city has said it will offer a minimum of three time slots per day for parades. The designated route, to be announced Thursday, is expected to end near the Pepsi Center. Fine said the city should have no problem accommodating the requests it has.
Planning for a minimum of three parades a day. Jaysus.

More questionable are requests for alternate routes because police resources - necessary to clear streets and direct traffic - will be stretched thin, Fine said.

There is nothing preventing marchers from walking down a public sidewalk, however, as long as they follow traffic signals, he said.
Oh, that'll look revolutionary. Don't walk!

Several groups, including the American Indian Movement, plan to march on sidewalks from Civic Center to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals at 18th and Stout streets to advocate for the release of what they say are political prisoners.
Besides Lenny (check out the fancy new site), I wonder who they mean?

Immigrant rights groups want to march Aug. 26 from Viking Park at 29th Avenue and Federal Boulevard to the Auraria campus.

The Re-Create 68 Alliance, which is planning several events, also will rally outside parties and hotels where delegates and politicians are staying, said organizer Glenn Spagnuolo.

Any and all tactics!

Transparent fence defined

The city said this week that a public protest area outside the Democratic National Convention will be surrounded by a "transparent and sound-transparent fence."

So what's a transparent fence?

It's one that allows people outside to see and hear the people inside - and vice versa, said City Attorney David Fine.
Ah. Good explanation. Will there be anything like this roving around inside?

Citing security issues, he said he couldn't disclose more details of the fence, such as the type of material to make the fence. That information may be released on June 23 along with other details about the demonstration area, the city has said.

Twenty-five-year-old Denver native Mackenzie Liman swears she's no terrorist.

But as a community activist, Liman fears she'll be targeted by police during the Democratic National Convention.

It's happened before, she said.

"Four years ago, FBI and SWAT raided my home in Lincoln Park and asked me if I planned to be involved in any terrorist or criminal activity during the DNC or RNC, which were being held in Boston and New York, far from Denver," Liman said, referring to the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention in 2004.
Jeez, couldn't they have just, you know, called?

"I admit I'm a community activist and outspoken [admitting you have a problem is always the first step, Mackenzie], but I was dumfounded," she added. "I'm afraid these types of raids could happen again now that the DNC is in our backyard."

Liman was among 150 people who gathered Tuesday at the Tattered Covered Book Store in lower downtown as the Democratic National Convention Committee wraps up a series of community forums held throughout the state.

Possible FBI raids, police surveillance, security blockades, efforts to remove the homeless from downtown streets and potential commuting and traffic headaches were just some of the issues residents raised with the people planning the Aug. 25-28 event at the Pepsi Center.

Political activists said they are concerned the police and Secret Service will compile information on protesters.

One DNC volunteer suggested placing limits on protesters and asked whether convention organizers and the city had "an active way to identify people who could make noise and disrupt the event?"

Both DNCC top managers and representatives for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper frowned at such a suggestion.
Frowned, I tells ya.

Unfug speaks
Chantal Unfug, deputy city liaison for the DNC, said Hickenlooper's administration is not aware of any targeting of groups or individuals by police or the Secret Service.

"The mayor wants to balance security and safety for an event of this magnitude," Unfug said. "We're not actively gathering information about protesters."

Still, some remain skeptical. Randel Loeb, who advocates for the homeless, complained that police are quietly suggesting "the homeless find another place to go during the convention."

Convention organizers said the event would be an opportunity to trumpet the mayor's initiative to find housing and other help for the homeless, not to push them out of sight.

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