Friday, September 26, 2008

Cops' DNC t-shirt brings attention to cowtown

The WSJ's Washington Wire has more on the tiny ruckus over the Denver cops' commemorative t-shirt:
Now that the delegates, news media, Secret Service and truckloads of Barack Obama tokens have left town, Denver is left with a tempest over a T-shirt.

The Denver Police Protective Association’s Democratic National Convention Commemorative T-shirts depict a truncheon-wielding cop looking out over Denver’s downtown with the motto:”We get up early to beat the crowds.” The front bears the number 68 in a circle with a slash through it, a reference to protester clearinghouse Recreate 68, itself a reference to the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago where protesters clashed violently with police and National Guard troops.

Activist groups say the shirt is fodder for a lawsuit they’re planning to file, charging that the Denver police systematically condoned violence against protesters. The police group’s response? Those activists just don’t get the joke.

“Nothing really happened,” Martin Vigil, president of the Denver Police Protective Association, told Washington Wire. “It wasn’t the event that the anti-government groups anticipated, and the T-shirts are a satirical comment on that, given to officers after the event as a ‘thank you’ for a perfect convention.”
Whoa. Back it up, bitch. Maybe not quite perfect. Pretty durn good. But satirical? I don't know about that.

But Glen [heh] Spagnuolo, co-founder of Recreate 68, said members of his group saw the shirts before the convention, and that the shirts reflect the brutality that Denver police officers exhibited during the convention.

“We feel like police should not be celebrating violating peoples’ rights,” Spagnuolo said. “These shirts set the tone for the beating that our members took.”

The beating that our members took. Complete, unadulterated fantasy. Next they'll be saying that IWAFBB*.
Given the high expectations surrounding the convention, turnout was anemic. Police arrested 154 protesters, and Recreate 68 is planning to file lawsuits relating to the mass arrests and detentions.
Mass arrests, plural. In fact, there was only the one, and in numbers it didn't come close to several of our strictly local Columbus Day protests. So, when are they going to file those lawsuits, anyway? I keep hearing about them, but nothing happens. Who knows, though, maybe a protester or two will win enough money to buy a starter house out in Highlands Ranch, like Glenn (scroll to update).

*It Was A Fucking Bloodbath.

Update: The Post, in low to middling dudgeon:
A T-shirt being distributed by Denver's police union that refers to Democratic National Convention protesters was supposedly a joke.

"We get up early to beat the crowds" and "DNC 2008."

Get it? "Beat" the crowds?
Count us among those who don't find it very funny.

The shirt, which features a menacing depiction of a baton-wielding officer, undermines the efforts the Denver Police Department has made to boost its credibility in the community.

It also accomplishes something we thought would be difficult if not impossible: It cedes the moral high ground to Re-Create 68 agitator Glenn Spagnuolo.

That's because the shirt also is emblazoned with a "68" with a slash through it — a reference to Spagnuolo's protest group.

It's true that Spagnuolo made a pest of himself in the months leading up to the August convention in Denver. He hinted darkly about violence and disruption.

And he boasted that Re-Create 68 would be 50,000 strong and would illegally occupy Civic Center park on a day when another group had legitimately obtained a permit to use the park.

Once the convention got underway, it was apparent that Spagnuolo's predictions were either a product of wishful thinking or delusions of grandeur.

I'd have used "and" rather than "or."
Protest crowds were far smaller than anyone predicted, and while a march did cross through the park, it was far from the mass sit-in predicted.

Overall, we thought law enforcement was effective in giving protesters the opportunity to exercise their First Amendment rights and march with little disruption to the rest of those who were in town for the convention.

It was, generally speaking, a peaceful four-day event.

Unfortunately, this T-shirt is an affront to the hard work of the officers who labored under difficult conditions to make that happen.
Guess that's why "officers from other departments like Lakewood police and the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department have been clamoring for the shirts and have ordered dozens more. [Detective Nick Rogers, who came up with the idea] said after the initial printing, there was so much demand he had to reorder more shirts."

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