Provoking, apparently, the orgy of head-bashing and nut-crushing the cops thereafter engaged in. Oh, wait . . .
When a Jefferson County deputy unleashed pepper spray at unruly protesters on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, he did not know that his targets were undercover Denver police officers.
Now the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado is questioning whether that staged confrontation by police pretending to be violent inflamed other protesters or officers during the most intense night of the four-day event.
The protest occurred Aug. 25 at 15th Street and Court Place near Civic Center. Police ultimately arrested 106 people, the highest number of arrests in a single day during the convention.
According to a use-of-force police report obtained by the ACLU, undercover Denver detectives staged a struggle with a police commander to get pulled out of the crowd without blowing their cover. The commander knew they were working undercover, and the plan was to pull them out of the crowd and pretend they were under arrest so protesters would be none the wiser.
A Jefferson County deputy, unaware of the presence of undercover police, thought that the commander was being attacked and used pepper spray on the undercover officers.
The report says that the commander and an undercover detective were sprayed, but it does not indicate how many others were affected. The report also doesn't say whether the pepper spray used on the undercover police was the first deployment of chemicals that night or whether the riot was already
underway. . . .
On Thursday, the ACLU of Colorado sent a letter to Denver's Independent Monitor, Richard Rosenthal, asking for the Internal Affairs Bureau to conduct an investigation of the pepper-spraying incident.
"The actions of the undercover detectives on August 25, 2008, may have had the effect of exacerbating an already 'tense situation,' as their feigned struggle led nearby officers and the public to believe that a commanding officer was being attacked by protestors and that the situation necessitated the use of chemical agents," says the letter, written by ACLU staff attorney Taylor Pendergrass.
"Such actions may have escalated the overall situation by causing officers on the scene to fear that the protestors threatened their safety, when in fact the struggle was only between uniformed officers and undercover officers," he wrote.
In other protest news:
A federal judge has dismissed part of a lawsuit filed by two activists who said their rights were violated by White House officials and volunteers when they were removed from a 2005 visit to Lowry by President Bush.Nothing gets by the Secret Service! And more, this from the ongoing trial of three of the arrested protesters:
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Wiley Daniel ruled that Leslie Weise and Alex Young had no constitutional right to be present at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum because it was a "limited private forum or limited nonpublic forum."
"President Bush had the right, at his own speech, to ensure that only his message was conveyed," Daniel wrote. "When the president speaks, he may choose his own words."
Daniel's order dismisses the case filed against three volunteers and White House officials. Motions are pending from two of the other defendants.
Weise and Young were among three people, referred to as the "Denver Three," removed from the museum before Bush started speaking. They had obtained tickets for the taxpayer-financed event from a local congressional office, but when they pulled into the parking lot in a car bearing the bumper sticker "No More Blood For Oil," they were pegged as potential troublemakers by White House staff.
People designated as legal observers to monitor protests and marches during the Democratic National Convention were not exempt from arrest, Denver police testified Thursday.
Legal observers wore bright green hats to identify themselves, and Nathan Acks, one of three people on trial this week in Denver County Court for allegedly blocking a street, was wearing one when he was arrested.
"It's not a free pass, the green hat," said Cmdr. Deborah Dilley. "It's no guarantee they won't be arrested. They should not be interjecting themselves into what is going on."
Sgt. Anthony Martinez said police received very little training about legal observers.
"It really doesn't matter," Martinez said. "A legal observer does not have the right to violate the law. If they were out in the middle of the street, they were in violation of the law and could be arrested like any other person."