Tuesday, August 26, 2008

DNC Report from the street 5, by Daphne Webb

DNC Report from the street 5
by Daphne Webb

I’m exhausted today. I was going to get downtown by 9 this morning, but since I spent 4 hours witnessing the detaining of 200 protesters and ended up caught in a run because someone thought tear gas was coming, I just can’t get there and I have a booth at a delegate party tomorrow. Weird. I was sent a terrific description of what happened last night so I’m going to cut and paste that here: (P.S. I was in the park ½ hour before the storm troopers moved in but I saw them and just somehow knew it wasn’t like the day before.) I’m glad I got out. I’m not sure if my pictures are any good either. Peace - not facsim!

Those are mounted police at 9:00 pm.

When we went downtown after working the Recreate 68 table for a few hours, we found that the mall was packed with people. I’ve never seen such a bustle in Denver before. We got to sit at outside at a restaurant for an hour to people watch. Madness. The one thing that’s become very interesting about this experience is that everyone here has something in common to talk about. People are talking to anyone around them about what’s going on. I met a girl on my way to find my friends who just wanted someone to walk around with. She was looking for a party to go to. She wanted Obama Buttons for her nephew. So, I find my friends, good bye to my new friend.

On our way back to the park, the cops created a barracade so nobody could cross the street (I think it was Arapahoe). Please know that there always the cops, I’m not just obssesed with them, they are literally everywhere and in packs all the time.) (Rumors: Motorcade or Anarchists were on the way) We were held on the mall with hundreds of other people just standing there with 80 or so robo-cops in riot gear pumping up their rubber bullet guns. We noticed they had big tear gas cans - at least a foot long hanging off their belts and the endless blue plastic hand-cuffs. This wasn’t a rally, this was on the 16th street mall with revelers and democrats wandering around town looking for something to do. Waves of cops walked by. We heard them barking orders and they would all simutaneously do something, like put gas masks on for example. All of a sudden the DNC isn’t fun anymore. Everywhere you go, official convention or not, we’re all treated like criminals and terrorists. This town is practically under marshall law. For all intensive purposes, it is. Lockdown. I’m starting to hate it. I’m starting to wonder what the hell they are so afraid of from the people. This is ridiculous, over-reaction from hell. I hope Mayor Hickelooper is somehow getting this blog. Maybe I’ll send it to him. The phone number for the Mayor and the Governor are below, if you have a reaction to this facist police state, let them know.

Here’s what happend last night while lovely Michelle and her beautiful daughters were telling their story at the fancy airconditioned podium. I thought Teddy K looked great; didn’t you? I was glad he could be here.

For photos and more information, see:


[Denver, CO] - Glenn Spagnuolo, one of the main organizers of Recreate68,
was interviewed on Peter Boyles on KHOW radio Tuesday morning about the
pepper bullet incident on Monday. You can listen to the full interviews

Glenn said that the incident last night started around 5:30pm, when
heavily-armed police in SWAT gear began making random sweeps through Civic
Center Park, harassing people sitting in the grass by poking them with
nightsticks and telling them to get up and leave. Glenn complained several
times to the protester’s police liaison, and the police would stop the
harassment, just to start it again a few minutes later. He said that
happened about 4 or 5 times. Glenn said some of the kids in the park became
annoyed and formed a circle and started chanting “No Justice, No Peace” and
put bandanas on their faces. He said that the police got worked up and came
in pretty heavy and opened up with pepper spray and pepper bullets into the
crowd without warning. The police chased the crowd through the park
towards 15th and Cleveland, where there was another line of police waiting
to surround the people running from the police and prevent them from
leaving. Glenn says the police surrounded the crowd, which included
frightened and crying children, and began pushing them back and crushing
the crowd together. He said they were detained for well over an hour.

With their heavy-handed tactics and lack of warning to the crowds, the
police clearly were trying to provoke violence from the crowd. There had
been over 2 days of peaceful protests up until this incident. Instead of
trying to arrest the trouble-makers without endangering others, the police
chose to react by firing pepper bullet guns, pepper spray and tear gas into
groups of innocent bystanders without warning and rounding up crowds of
innocent people and detaining them for over an hour.

In other incidents of police harassment, Cindy Sheehan, an antiwar activist
running for office against Nancy Pelosi, returned to her hotel room in
Denver yesterday to find a man trying to plant a bug in her telephone.

According to Glenn Spagnuolo, the police had been stopping and searching
the cars of Recreate68 and Unconventional Action activists near their
convergence center north of downtown.

Another report on colorado.indymedia.org states that 5 members of the
Solidarity Radical Library and Revolutionary Center from Lawrence, Kansas
were arrested Monday in Denver without any reason.

Other activists reported heavy intimidation and harassment by roving gangs
of heavily-armed law enforcement officers in the Civic Center Park Festival
of Democracy and elsewhere in Denver.

Please call the officials below and tell them to stop the harassment of
antiwar activists by police. Forward this announcement to your friends. We
need to let the city of Denver know that the “The Whole World is Watching!”

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper
Phone: 720-865-9000 (Denver 311)
Ask for the Mayor’s Office

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter
Phone: (303) 866-2471
They say it’s the Mayor’s responsibility, not theirs, but they still need
to feel the heat.

DNC Report from the street 4, by Daphne Webb

DNC Report from the street 4
by Daphne Webb

I got downtown today at about 12:30 or 1:00 pm. Yes; I took the 15, no crack today. I went over to Civic Center Park looking for the blue tent. Uh-oh, there are 150 tents downtown now, and represent a wide variety of businesses, Obama Supporters, t-shirt/button sellers, non-profits and all kinds of Obama stuff. There were pro-war right wing people hanging out on the corner. Hundreds and hundreds of people were walking around. Except for a tornado in Parker (30 miles south of Denver) the weather has been stunningly beautiful as it always is in Denver this time of year.

I missed the End the Occupation March, but heard it was great. A friend is sending pictures. After a quick loop through the many booths I found Recreate 68 booth. It was in the same spot as yesterday. I spent a couple of hours talking to people before it got really juicy. There had been a “take back the streets” march today. Young and brave people wearing all black and barreling through town. What a sight to see. There were about 500 – 1000 of them and they were going where they wanted to go and their goal was so shut down the street to express their need for freedom. When they got to Broadway – a block away from Lincoln, a spectacle appeared. The police moved in. They were on Horseback, Bicycles and on foot in full riot gear with the blue handcuffs strapped to their belts. I would say there were about 50 police officers. It was formidable and they got there and gathered in less than 5 minutes. The protesters took the street. They stayed there for over the 5 minutes promised to them. Guess what? Nothing happened. Everyone did what they were supposed to do and although the imagery of the police state was terrifying, it stayed very calm, noisy, but calm. We were worried about Tear gas. They stayed strong both protesters and cops. Nobody did anything stupid, at all. It was amazing. Then the protesters walked across the street and through Lincoln Park over to Lincoln Street. The same scene repeated itself. I got a couple of good shots mostly showing how 9 – 12 police are holding on to the side of a Blazer in full riot gear.

There are certain things that must happen here. The protesters must have the space to tell their story and the cops have to be there because that’s their assignment. The police presence was overwhelming, but the composure was appreciated. What can they do? Their reputation is as much on the line as ours is. The Mayor has made a point of making sure that this can happen and that nobody gets hurt. It’s part of the process and none of this should be a surprise. The two party system is not working and if we’re going to preserve what’s left of America, it’s critical that these movements continue.

On my way home I stopped at Rite Aid to pick up some milk and the cashier was part of the independent Latino media. He showed me pictures from the media party at Elitches on Saturday Night. They had a great time. Everything was free and you couldn’t “lose” a game, they won Stuffed Donkey’s with Denver 2008 T-shirts at the games. He told me that he had a blast!

Random thoughts:

I think the Obama art is really cool. It’s colorful and interesting and acknowledges the pulse of modern day America. John McCain insists on the old school name in a box technique.

I spent an hour or so with a friend of a friend at the Red Room on Colfax and he was with Queers against Capitalism! One of their people was arrested today. He was trying to find out where he was taken but didn’t find out. The Lawyers are looking for this person and will hopefully get some help.

Food Not Bombs was out today. They gave out vegetarian Fajitas.

Come up to Denver sent me the Highlights for Monday: Come downtown! It’s a trip.

All day
3pm: Music program starts
Downtown Festival of Democracy
Civic Center Park


All day
Tent State University
Cuernavaca Park
20th Street and I25 along the S. Platte River

All day
We Are Change and 9/11 Truth
Gates Crescent Park
1901 Children’s Museum DR, Denver, CO

All day
Progressive Democrats of America Headquarters
Central Presbyterian Church, 1660 Sherman St., Denver, CO

Freedom Cage Street Theatre with Recreate68
Street theater at the freedom cage (designated protest area) need
Start: Skyline Park on the 16th Street Mall
End: Freedom Cage at the Pepsi Center. If you cherish your civil liberties,
than you should be apart of this event!

Freedom March from Civic Center to Fed. Courthouse
Begin: Civic Center Park
End: Araj Federal Courthouse, 1929 Stout
Kathleen Cleaver, Fred Hampton, Jr., supporters of Leonard Peltier,
recording from Mumia Abu-Jamal on death row and others will speak

5:00 pm
Shake Your Money Maker Protest
The Denver Mint Building
Encircle Denver Mint
Bring noisemakers, energy, spells, magic, costumes, anything that gives you
power. We’ll need it!

5:00 pm - 7:00pm
Code Pink: Make Out Not War Aerial Image
Cuernavaca Park
A visual representation of peace and justice with thousands of others! Wear
light colored clothing. Fabulous musical performances by Betsy Rose, Rachel
Bagby, Morley and more. Pink Badge of Courage Awards presented to amazing
women for peace.

Monday, August 25, 2008

DNC Report from the street 3, by Daphne Webb

As I mentioned before, COF contributor Daphne Webb is reporting live from the protests outside the DNC. This is her third report.
DNC Report from the Street 3
by Daphne Webb

I wanted to be at Lincoln Park no later than 11 am. I wanted an hour to scope out the scene and see if I could be helpful and I am truly amazed and enamored of this entire situation. For those of you on this list who live (d) in Denver, you will understand when I tell you that I took the "15" downtown and, that as a joke, it has been refereed to as the "crack-line." Today, it was no joke. I got on my bus at about 10:30 am and sat in a seat about mid-way back. There is a woman in the seat in front of me who was clearly on something that completely alters a person. I said a little prayer for her because there are almost always terrible issues behind drug-addiction and I was frankly, worried about her. She was scared and freaked out. The bus was rather full, every seat filled and about 5 minutes later, the guy that was sitting across from her said, "No you didn’t just smoke crack on the bus!" "Bus Driver there is a person on this bus smoking some god-damned crack" All of a sudden I catch a whiff of a smell that’s a like a chemically charged rotten egg smell and it was thick. All of a sudden people started coughing. Really hard. This bus had just been filled with Crack smoke and we’re in Denver where air is a precious commodity to begin with. I got out of my seat and started opening windows especially near people who were getting sick and then I told the driver I wanted off. He pulled the bus over and there were more than 4 people really struggling with their breath. There was one woman in particular that needed assistance. She got her asthma infusor out and was extremely shaky and not doing well. I walked over to her and took her over to a shady spot, sat her down, rubbed her back and talked her down. It took about 10 minutes to get her to the point where she was breathing normally and I asked he what her name was "Diana", "Diana?" I said, "Diana (Dee-Aah-Na)" I asked her if she was alone. She said no, that she had her son with her. "What’s his name, how old is he?" "Anthony, he’s 13." So I called out: "Anthony" and he was behind me on his cell phone calling his father. The father was on the way. I sat with her for a couple of minutes more and she said she was fine and other people were looking out for her too. She was o.k.

The bus driver was pretty shook-up by the whole thing. It was chaos. I walked up to the guy that told the bus what was going on because I wanted to thank him. He was really mad. He told me, "You people never say what needs to be said, you just sit there and you don’t do shit." Wow. He was right, but truly he was the only person who actually saw it. I figured he was probably shook up by this situation also and nobody is in a good mood after a toxic substance gases them. It was shocking. It was sad. I have no idea what happened to the woman who was smoking the crack on the bus. I hope she’s in a treatment center and not in a horrible gray cold jail. This woman needs help, not incarceration. I walked down the street for about 5 minutes and waited for the next bus. I told the driver, "I was on the crack bus." And he waived me in. 10 blocks to go. I ended up in the seat behind the guy who was mad at me for reasons I don’t understand and got off at Colfax and Broadway. I found the Recreate 68 group arguing with the guy who manages the veteran memorial because someone had "tagged it" and it was all R-68’s fault. I don’t know, I was high on crack!

I got my act together and practically showered with precious drinking water and started setting up. About 12 pm the area started to fill in with media, people visiting and supporters, friends and yes. Cops. Lots and lots of cops.

I didn’t get my self-defense training because I wanted to be at the Welcome Table to welcome people into town. I met people from New York, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, St. Louis, Seattle, Rochester NY, Boulder and one man from Spain. NBC, Ch. 2, Rocky Mountain News, and many other channels visited us. The organizer was talking to people for 2 hours straight. Sometimes they had Cameras, sometimes not. People really wanted to be welcomed into town. I asked everyone, "Are you in from out of town?" 9 X’s out of 10 they were.

Today felt like, "Meet and Greet Day." Today was about getting to know the community in Denver. It’s important to welcome people, they like that. Today was "Human Condition Day"; I have witnessed so much human behavior these last few days. The human condition… how would you describe it?

DNC Report from the street 2, by Daphne Webb

As I mentioned before, COF contributor Daphne Webb is reporting live from the protests outside the DNC. This is her second report.
DNC Report from the Street 2
by Daphne Webb

I’m starting to discover that I’m a bit of a schizophrenic. I have the side who is a business owner and wears rayon and make up and healed shoes, then there’s the Barefoot Floridian in me that must sit outside with people that I like a lot. Because of this blog, I have to participate in both sides of the event and I think that makes me lucky! I want to balance the Fancy Shmancy Super Shiny DNC with what’ the folks On The Street are doing with little to no money, or support. We’ll see who gets bigger crowds.

Thursday Night: I went to the final meeting of Recreate 68 last night. It was a difficult meeting due to the fact that the organizers are all mad at each other. As we all sat in the park folding thousands of schedules, I noticed that several people were arguing. This is a common occurrence among organizers. It amazes me how upset people get, but I think it’s about being tired and under scrutiny all the time. Differences in philosophy, technique and style. As usual, they asked everyone to identify them selves. They did, the Washington Post was there, several independent filmmakers, and a few small newspapers as well as several national protest groups were represented. There is an argument going on between two groups. I didn’t catch what it was about, but someone asked the guy to turn off his camera and he wouldn’t. There was a heckler with a mega-phone giving the organizers a constant barrage of insults. We all ignored him. He was particularly mean to one female organizer, but I think it’s more like the little boy who pulls the girls hair in class. Business, business, business, meeting adjourned. There were cops everywhere but they had no interest in our meeting. Whew. To protect and to serve.

At the "Welcome Table Training" Meeting which immediately followed the first meeting in the same patch of grass and also included schedule folding, everyone learned about selling T-shirts, giving out schedules, taking donations, wearing buttons etc. Towards the end we were told that if we all get tear-gassed and have to leave that someone must count the donation money so we know how much is there if something goes down. I wondered how on earth we would do that so instead I asked if we could use it for bail. They laughed. I’ve told the organizers that I wanted to help them "green" the protest site. I really do, but since the city is involved with that, and doesn’t ever send me any information I guess it’s going to be a on site thing. This makes me in charge of crap and garbage – or "environmental issues" is the nice way of saying that. I guess its o.k. that there’s nothing to do. The park meetings ended and it was almost dark out. Everyone is really jazzed about this opportunity. I hope the organizers take care of themselves this week. I hope they get lots of good food, plenty of rest and a moment or two to be proud of what they have done. Which is enormous and extremely important.

The counter convention gets exciting tomorrow. I can’t wait to get my self-defense training.

Friday Afternoon: I was invited to go on a tour of the Pepsi Center today. It started off as the Joe Public Tour where you go from place to place to see the floor for 5 minutes and then leave. We were corralled from one place to the escalator, to a place in the hall, While we were in line with the big public tour we started talking to our tour guide who was 22 and a student at the University of Illinois in 1968. My head whipped around. He talked about how at that time; everyone was completely invested in ending the war because of the draft. You could have been called up at anytime. He knew his draft number (as all men that age do) and talked about the difference of the anti-war movement from then and the general apathy now. If you’re not invested and it doesn’t affect your life, you don’t have to pay attention. However, if there’s a draft, you do because your number could be called at any time. And, here we are with Recreate 68. Is our climate more like 1968 or 1938? That’s a question for another day. I want to know what it was really like back then. There weren’t guys with laptops at the park. After that conversation, we were led, finally, to the room.

The big blue and white sparkly room. It was sensory overload but truly amazing to look at. It literally twinkles. The guide told us about how the podium goes up and down depending on the speaker’s height and it’s air-conditioned. The guide told us that Ohio’s sign is really big, and thought it might be a tribute to Stephanie Tubbs Jones. A sad and difficult loss. She died Tuesday of a brain aneurysm. She will be missed. RIP Stephanie, you were appreciated.

As we were being told to leave by the tour guide a friend of a friend that I was with waved us down. This is when we got the "amazing tour." We walked around the Pepsi Center for maybe 2 hours as actual eyewitnesses of how this mega media circus is being powered. The Media builds out boxes for cameras and more space.
The cables alone were a maze that if stretched out probably would go at least 500 miles. Big Fat Cables that wrap the entire "can" inside and out. There are scaffoldings holding up these enormous cables, hundreds of them, everywhere. It looked like The Matrix, oh wait, it was! Amazing anyway. We went downstairs and outside and saw all of the media tents. They are enormous. There was one that was built around trees in the parking lot and they had to have an arborist come in when they started looking haggard and because the tent is air-conditioned, the trees thought it was fall. So, big effort to save the trees.

We saw all of the media tents, everyone from Associated Press to Air America. Being the political junkie that I am I was absolutely enthralled by this organization. As an event planner, I could have had a nervous breakdown easily, even for just one speck of this event. All eyes on Denver, people, clap clap. Welcome to the New West.

Interesting bits of useless information:
They have LIBERTY porta-potties at The Pepsi Center and that I saw Fox News banner next to a Waste Management Can and NPR next to the bathroom. Priceless

On the CNN wall, they put all these words, the second of which was RESPECT and they spelled it wrong and had to re-do it. They can’t even spell respect.

As we were leaving the property, we found guys wiping off the sidewalk a chalk message that said, "Social Justice Begins in the Womb." The anti-abortion and counter pro-choice rallies are tomorrow.

Coca-Cola is doing the recycling in the Pepsi Center.

Al Jazeera was the first media outlet to secure them selves a spot and pay for it.

CNN has the biggest build out.

Brian Williams is the only one who got a balcony.

Weird thought I had: If Hillary had gotten the nomination and moved her speech to Invesco, we could have had some very funny diaphragm jokes.

For more information on what’s happening, please check out these web sites: www.recreate68.com, www.comeuptodenver.com, www.denverconvention2008.com

DNC Report from the street 1, by Daphne Webb

COF contributor Daphne Webb has been posting updates live from the streets of the DNC. It's a fascinating look into protest and power in the land of freedom. I'll be cross-posting here.

DNC Report from the street 1
by Daphne Webb

I haven’t actually hit the street yet, but here’s the first edition of the DNC Report from the Street and what’s going on in the town.

The city has their banners up downtown, the delegates are beginning to arrive. Nobody I know got a ticket to see Obama at Invesco on the 45th Anniversary of the “I have a dream” speech. There is a flutter of excitement from every angle. I’ve been watching the city meetings where they are promoting their events all over the city. The stuff that “the public” is allowed to go. The gavel to gavel coverage both on TeeVee and on the Internet. They are also broadcasting in Spanish. That’s a first.

For the first time in exactly 100 years Denver will host a national convention. Very exciting. Congratulations Mayor Hickenlooper and City Council. Good for you. I’m sure you will be very proud. There is a nagging problem however, every single time they talk about the convention, they talk about the security and what to do with those peksy protestors. They are spending 50 million dollars on securtiy. This is a national security event and the entire world is furious at us, so yes, they need security on the off chance that someone somewhere is planning some hideous act of “terrorism.” God forbid. Yesterday they had the swat teams arrive to check out a box that was left out side a buidling by a courier. It was nothing.

I truly hope that we are not shocked and awed during this event. I heard City Council Member Charlie Brown (yes, that’s really his name) talking about the security for the convention, and he didn’t talk about terrorism, he was talking about the protestors. He flat out said, (with a weird smirk) that the police and the city were ready “on their side” for the protestors. What the hell do they think we’re going to do? I guess they think there are plans to destroy downtown. Not the case, but they are ready to haul us all in.

Please be aware, that there is another convention going on here in our great city of Denver, CO. It’s the counter-convention. This is going to be a massive rally which will include many groups that want to end the war, bring integrity back to government and fight the good fight to bring America back to the glorious place it came from. The city has made a lazy attempt at accommodating the people who want to express their views, views which differ from what we hear on mainstream media. Views that include compassion for overcrowded prisons and human rights, not only for American’s but for Palestinians, Iraqis, Tibetans. People who think war is wasteful and wrong. People who believe that rational policies towards Immigration and the Environment should be funded before killing machines like Blackwater and Halliburton. People who believe that people should be safe in their homes and communities. People who believe that elections should be simple and fair. This is the America that I love. Where the freedom of speech is a priority and a right, not a criminal nuisance.

The news of the Denver Police’s preparations has everyone in a twitter. Mass arrests is all anyone says about the DNC. “Gitmo on the Platte” is what they’re calling the holding facility. This is an enourmous ware house that has cages inside made out of chain link fencing. Yesterday, exercises were run, using volunteers who consented to having themselves fake-arrested with plastic wrist bands. Desensitization maybe? The facility is absolutely huge. Is this legal? Political Dissidents and Protestors is who this Hotel Hell is for. The news showed pictures of the cages, many divisions and the top has barbed wire and get this, RAZOR WIRE. The news says that the Mayor’s office told the police to remove the razor wire, but they didn’t show any proof that it actually happened. Gitmo on the Platte is a radical version of the “Freedom Cages.” The Freedom Cages are also made of fencing and will be in Parking Lot A at the Pepsi Center. They are intended to keep the protestors out of the “hearts and minds” of the delegates. Out of eye sight and out of hearing range. We’ll probably have a great view of the snipers on the roof.

I have visions of the “wrapping arrest” technique. That’s where they take construction gating and wrap it around hundreds of people at once to detain the entire group. My heart doesn’t accept this as reality. I keep thinking, “It’s just a scare tactic.” I hear Big Brother in my head saying, “Submit, comply, do as we say.”

The city has shiny programming going on to explain that it’s “business as usual” downtown during the convention. The protestors are saying, “No more politics as usual” - nothing is as usual. Not in the streets, not in the hallowed halls of justice. People tell me that they aren’t “into politics.” I think this is way beyond politics. This is personal. People are losing their homes, their jobs, their pensions, their health insurance. They’re being taxed and over charged for everything a hundred times a day. The economy is collapsing, the dollar is on a free-fall. We’re still losing soldiers and good will through the hideous War on Terror. I’m supposed to accept any of this as “usual?” NO WAY JOSE!

The convention hasn’t even started yet, and I’m already nervous. I want to be free to roam and talk to friends about the situation, but I’m terrified of getting arrested. I’ve never been in any sort of trouble before and I’m not interested in starting now, but why should I be in “trouble” for wearing a t-shirt? Making a sign? Carrying a sign? Maybe this effort will make change, maybe.

We’ll do it for the handsome gentleman in this picture.