Friday, August 29, 2008

No Democracy in Denver: Cops Attack Protesters at the Democratic National Convention

No democracy in Denver

Cops attack protesters at DNC: Emergency news conference exposes gov’t terror

By LeiLani Dowell
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.

Several hundred activists were gathered in Civic Center Park on Aug. 25, where the Recreate 68 Alliance ( 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.

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 serve?’”

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 Iraq.

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.
Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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As Democrats meet

Activists take to Denver streets against war, racism

By LeiLani Dowell
and Dustin Langley
Published Aug 27, 2008 8:48 PM

Aug. 26—A series of rallies, marches, teach-ins and cultural events have taken place in the first two days of people’s resistance to the Democratic Party during its national convention in Denver.

The events, organized primarily by the Recreate 68 Alliance (, have called attention to the Democratic Party’s complicity in imperialist wars abroad and racism, poverty and oppression in the United States. Thousands of activists, many of them youth, are participating in the week of activities.

Protesters have challenged right-wingers who also arrived in Denver this week. Women’s groups have defended abortion clinics, and bigots like the anti-lesbian/gay/bi/trans Rev. Fred Phelps have been shouted down by activists.

Cultural performances have been an integral component of the week’s events, with all-day, free concerts featuring spoken word, Hip Hop, folk, rock and punk music. Food Not Bombs has provided free food to participants.

The effective organization of this week of action has been evident in the success of the events, despite continuing police and state harassment and intimidation of protesters (see accompanying article). As social services for the people of Denver have been slashed, the state received $50 million in federal funds for convention “security,” which is reflected in the high-tech riot gear and weapons worn by the thousands of police who surround the protesters daily.

March to end all occupations

The mobilization began on Aug. 24 with a March to End All Occupations at Home and Abroad. A lineup of multinational speakers denounced the anti-worker, imperialist policies of both the Democratic and Republican parties. Many stressed the necessity for a revolution to abolish the entire capitalist system.

Glenn Spagnuolo of Recreate 68 Alliance saluted the courage and determination of those who had come to Denver from as far as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Florida and Maine.

Larry Hales of Recreate 68 Alliance and the youth group FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together) called for unconditional solidarity with the struggles of all oppressed people. Congressional candidate Cindy Sheehan warned against new U.S. military actions in Georgia and Russia.

Larry Holmes, a national leader of the Troops Out Now Coalition, celebrated the call to “Recreate 68,” saying that reviving 1968 spirit of militant struggle is necessary as the attacks on workers at home and abroad increase.

Cynthia McKinney, Green Party presidential candidate, spoke of the continuing U.S. government neglect faced by survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Former Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver addressed the Bush administration’s misuse of the term “terrorism,” saying that African-American communities have been victims of terrorism for more than 400 years.

Activist and author Ward Churchill denounced the theft of Native lands, noting the continuing U.S. policy of land theft in the Middle East. Palestinian refugee Ida Audeh described the horrific conditions faced by the people of Gaza.

Ron Kovic, disabled Vietnam veteran and author of “Born on the Fourth of July,” said, “I’ll be damned if I let another young person be sent to war and come home like this.”

Well-known activists and Hip Hop performers dead prez closed the rally, introduced by Rosa Clemente, Green Party vice presidential candidate, who spoke of the power of Hip Hop as an organizing and educational tool.

The rally was followed by a militant march through the streets of Denver, including a strong contingent in opposition to a war against Iran. When the protesters reached the Pepsi Center, thousands of them faced off with police, blocking one of the entrances and holding the street for more than 45 minutes.

The next day, Aug. 25, was dedicated to political prisoners, as well as the millions of workers, disproportionately people of color, locked up by the prison/industrial complex. An energetic march took to the streets, without a police permit, winding its way down the 16th Street Mall, a main tourist and shopping attraction in the city. A street vendor threw up his fist and shouted “Free Mumia!” as activists passed by.

The march ended at Denver’s federal courthouse, where a rally featured the leaders of various struggles to free political prisoners. A moving letter to the mobilization from Leonard Peltier, a Native political prisoner who has been locked up for more than 30 years, was read; and a recorded statement from death-row political prisoner and award-winning journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was played.

Speakers at the rally included Pam Africa of International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; Kathleen Cleaver, representing the case of former Panthers known as the San Francisco 8; King Downing, national coordinator of the ACLU’s Campaign against Racial Profiling; Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee; Gloria La Riva of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five; and more.

Many more activities are planned for the remainder of the week, including direct actions to protect the environment, a march for immigrant rights, performances by Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine, and forums on a number of other important topics.

The last event on Recreate 68’s list of activities takes place on Aug. 29—when buses will leave from Denver to transport activists to St. Paul, Minn., to protest at the Republican National Convention.
Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
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