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.