June 04, 2007

Protestors Dictate Rules Of Engagement To Denver For 2008 DNC

First, they tried to play it off as negotiations to keep the protests at next year's DNC "non-violent".

But what protestors have proposed would be a restrictive proclamation that would curtail police officers' ability to ensure public safety:
A city councilman expressed outrage this morning that the council will consider a proclamation initially drafted by a protest group that calls for restricting police tactics during the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

The one-page proclamation headed for a council vote next Monday is based on a compromise version of the original statement proposed by the Recreate 68 Alliance, which is organizing protests for the 2008 Denver convention.

The group's Web site vows to make Chicago's 1968 Democratic National Convention — notorious for its brutal, bloody clashes between Chicago police and anti-Vietnam War protesters — "look like a small get-together in 2008!"

"I think it's amazing that any can special interest group — right-wing or left-wing — can tell the Denver Police Department and the mayor and City Council how to run our city when it comes to dealing with the protesters at the DNC," Councilman Charlie Brown said, adding he "absolutely" opposes the proclamation.

"I have complete faith in (Denver Police Chief) Gerry Whitman and the police department is sworn to uphold the First Amendment and it will continue to do so," said Brown, stressing his support for the right to peacefully protest.
Protest planners cite 2004's heated protests at both Democrat and Republican conventions--referring in part to fenced "Free Speech Zones" that they found offensive. The councilman is correct to point out that it is perhaps unprecedented (at least in Denver) for protestors to attempt to dictate rules of engagement to the DPD and the city in general.

No one questions the protestors' unfettered access to First Amendment protections--ones that this blogger has enjoyed on numerous protest occasions. This proclamation, however, lays out a plan to create a "positive" spin in the media in relation to expected protest complications (the inevitable arrests, citations, etc.) and put Denver and the police department on the defensive. An excerpt of the proposed proclamation:

Section 1. That the Council calls upon Mayor John Hickenlooper and other city officials to affirm and uphold the exercise of First Amendment rights in Denver upon the occasion of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Section 2. That the Council calls upon City officials to take affirmative measures to uphold and protect the rights of speech, expression and association, at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, including the creation and implementation of systems and procedures to ensure that (a) there is reasonable and prompt action on permit applications for public demonstrations, marches and rallies; (b) use of force, including the use of horses, pepper spray or other aggressive means to police public demonstrations, is restricted except to the minimal extent required by legitimate law-enforcement purposes; (c) demonstrations may occur in close proximity to and within sight and sound of the Convention delegates, consistent with reasonable security concerns; (d) restricted use of four-sided enclosures or barricades to confine the movement of people at public demonstrations except in limited circumstances based on legitimate and reasonable security concerns, and in such circumstances ensure that such enclosures have sufficient openings to allow people to exit, return and move freely around the demonstration site.
You can check out Recreate68 here.

This isn't the first time that Denver appears to be on the verge of caving in to protestors who flout laws and city regulations in order to be on the "right side".

The protest planners, led by Ward Churchill lacky Glenn Spagnuolo (also of Recreate 68), have preemptively assigned blame for any potential protestor/police confrontation at the feet of Denver's finest:
Recreate 68 organizer Glenn Spagnuolo said people forget that protesters went to the 1968 Chicago convention planning peaceful opposition to the war and things only turned ugly after police aggressively attacked demonstrators.

"Instead what (protesters) had to confront was a bunch of brutal pigs, which was the Chicago Police Department," Spagnuolo said.

"We're meeting early with the (Denver) police department in hopes that they don't recreate what the Chicago police did," added Spagnuolo, who along with the American Civil Liberties Union met with top police and city officials about two weeks ago.

"So far the city has been pretty open to talking with us. I've been pretty pleased with the communications so far with the city of Denver."

"We're planning nonviolent, peaceful protests, but we are going to exercise our constitutional rights and we're not going to allow anyone to take them away from us," he said.
In other words, let us behave like spoiled brats--destroying property, trashing public areas, blocking traffic, intimidating Convention delegates, and other sorts of "free speech" mayhem and excess--and don't even think of calling us to account.

Spagnuolo also gets away with attacking obliquely the Denver police and security personnel with his "brutal pigs" comment. Just the sort of respectful, "nonviolent" and "peaceful" protests Denver can expect next summer.

The Drunkablog! has more on Glenn's "philosophy".

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