Friday, July 25, 2008

Recreate68 meeting with cops, feds

Despite allegations of stonewalling and secrecy surrounding their security plans for the streets during the Democratic National Convention, police have quietly been meeting with groups planning protests, including an anti-Iraq war group whose leaders' commitment to nonviolence has been questioned. . . .

"It's just smart business to make sure everybody is on the same page to clear up any misunderstandings and rumors that are out there," said Sonny Jackson, spokesman for Denver police, which along with the Secret Service is in charge of security during the Aug. 25-28 event. "Instead of a bullhorn (on the streets) you're having a conversation across the table."

Glenn Spagnuolo, head of Recreate68 and a veteran of several Columbus Day Parade protests in Denver where hundreds have been arrested since 2000, said the meetings have allowed the group to talk civilly with police.

"There are certain issues that we both feel comfortable with and we can drop our guard and talk through the issues," Spagnuolo said. "We can't do that on everything, but there are things were we can." . . .

Spagnuolo said Recreate68 also is working with the Department of Justice's Community Relations Service to ease tensions. The service was created as part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to mediate conflicts between racial groups.

Spagnuolo said the service told him there will be nine "facilitators" in the streets of Denver during the convention to help diffuse any confrontation between protesters and police.

"Our experience has been that police can quickly overreact to situations where it could take five minutes to negotiate and help calm the street," Spagnuolo said.
Yes, that's always the problem.

The service was involved in negotiations between the American Indian Movement and an Italian-American group that revived Denver's Columbus Day Parade in 2000. The annual event had been canceled in 1992 after threats of violence. Some Native Americans said Christopher Columbus was a killer and slave trader whose discovery of America shouldn't be celebrated. . . .

Bryan Breitenbach, a spokesman for the Community Relations Service, said the service is not permitted to talk about its involvement but that its training includes making sure protest march routes are clear of cars and newspaper racks and other objects that can be thrown through windows.
Now that's community relations. (Incidentally, protesters must really be in shape to be able to throw cars through windows.)

"We work to help law enforcement understand the march, understand the dynamics of the march," Breitenbach said, adding that confidentiality is important to ensure those working with the department speak freely.

Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., police this week announced that they were working with the Justice Department to open communication lines with activist leaders at the Republican National Convention, which will be Sept. 1-4 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. About 10 so-called "dialogue officers" or "free speech liaison officers" are trying to open dialogue and exchange cell phone numbers with demonstrators at the RNC. . . .
Dialogue officers.

More: Colorado Independent (via Huffpo): Guard to rent 500 Denver hotel rooms:
The U.S. Army and Colorado National Guard have announced intentions to reserve more than 500 hotel rooms for lodging during the Democratic National Convention, hinting at the number of military personnel that may be in Denver for the high-profile event that is expected to draw an estimated 50,000 protesters.

While the Democratic convention is being held on Aug 25-28, officials with the Colorado National Guard are seeking to reserve 438 rooms for Aug. 22-30 and 78 rooms for Aug. 18-30 according to award announcements published Friday on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site, a page run by the federal government for business contract solicitations.

The documents show that majority of guard personnel staying from Aug. 22-30 are set to lodge at Johnson & Wales University, located on 7150 Montview Blvd in far east Denver, while 32 rooms will be rented out for an unknown Extended Stay America location in Denver.
(h/t: knox)

Update II: It's a Huffypoo day as the megasite reprints Judah Freed's report (which the D-blog noted a couple of days ago) on the failure of a Recreate68/Alliance for Democracy summit last Sunday.

Update III: Gathering of Eagles has a release announcing the formation of a Colorado chapter of Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission. The release also notes that the organization will be protesting the protesters at the anti-war march before the start of the Democratic National Convention on August 24. They'll be with the group Colorado Support the Troops, which received one of the protest permits that R68 got so hoggish about, this one for Pioneer Park, "'just across from the Recreate 68 crowd." (It's actually across eight or ten lanes of Colfax Avenue, so there may not be much, if any, interaction.)

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