Posted August 29, 2008
Outside the Pepsi Center, protesters gathered during the DNC to protest the war, capitalism and to march for immigrant rights in numerous events throughout the week. Due to several months of fear mongering by police, media and City Council, the numbers at Sunday morning’s antiwar kick-off march to the Pepsi Center were smaller than anticipated – but several thousand still participated.
all photos by Ric Urrutia
After the march to the Pepsi Center, there were a few competing marches due to a split in the local organizing over issues of self-defense and pacifism. Various snake marches and a contingent of Iraq Veterans Against the War demonstrated around downtown and around the pedestrian mall. A few hundred anarchists broke off and engaged in an unpermitted snake march in the streets for several hours. Mounted police, cops on bikes and police stacked on the outside of SUVs trapped the march on a downtown block and ordered the group to disperse. Eventually, after several confrontations and at least one arrest, it did. It seemed clear that police had made a decision to allow protesters to block traffic, but by Monday the tone changed.
On Monday evening a few hundred gathered in Civic Center park for an announced anti-capitalist march, dubbed “Everything for Everyone.” However, riot police moved in on protesters – dispersing them with clubs onto the street, where they were pepper sprayed and later corralled. Around 100 were arrested and charged with a variety of offenses. Police had pre-printed forms indicating the charges against arrestees and in some cases the arresting officers couldn’t tell individuals what the charges against them were. The arrestees were taken to the temporary detainment center known locally as ‘Gitmo on the Platte’ (the Platte is a river that runs through Denver) and many were denied phone calls or access to an attorney for up to 12 hours. The detention facilities, specifically erected for the convention, were kept freezing cold and in them protesters were verbally harassed by cops and not allowed to sleep.
On Wednesday about 10,000 gathered to watch Rage Against the Machine and about 7,500 of them marched the 4 miles from the performance venue to the Pepsi Center. This march was led by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War and the march occasionally stopped to allow vets to share war stories through a megaphone. To think that someone would train and command our youth to carry out the atrocities they described defies all reason and logic. One of the most horrific stories came from a vet who was ordered to include children in his list of targets to shoot for. Another vet almost broke down describing how no amount of therapy could ever take away the guilt of what he did in Iraq.
The protesters were able to deliver a statement to Obama’s staff including these demands: 1. Immediate withdrawal from Iraq, 2. Health benefits for Iraq veterans, 3. Reparations for the Iraqi people. Though Obama is the supposed anti-war candidate, all his staff promised was that someone from the Obama camp would listen to these demands. After the march ended and the demands were delivered, protesters remained by the Pepsi center but were soon threatened with tear gas if they didn’t disperse after three warnings from the cops.
The DNC protesters helped Denver police show their full militarist might to the country. Protesters were not able to legitimately get near to the Pepsi Center. By and large, the mainstream media did not report on protest activity. On Wednesday there were thousands of protesters outside the Pepsi Center, led by Iraqi vets, making real demands of Obama, and likely few delegates knew. Security measures were taken beyond security during the DNC. Armed white supremacists made threats against Obama’s life during the DNC but police wrote them off as “meth heads” and they weren’t even charged as credible threats. Yet a few hundred young protests in a legal march were treated like dogs.
All photos by Ric Urrutia.