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Tensions Begin On the Eve of the DNC
Anti-Capitalists Reclaim the Streets of Downtown Denver to kick off DNC protests.
Two pink tanks blasting raucous music and masked protesters carrying signs such as “It’s the $y$tem, Stupid”, “No HOPE in Capitalism,” and “Riot for Peace” took over the downtown of the Mile High City on Sunday on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.
Denver’s 16th Street Mall—a16-block pedestrian and public transit corridor in the center of the city—was overrun by an Unconventional Denver orchestrated action at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
The day started off with a Recreate ’68 morning action that brought out 2,000 people to the corporate gates of the Pepsi Center in the End the Occupation March to protest of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and other occupations throughout the world. Dead Prez kicked off the march from the Civic Center.
World Can’t Wait headed the march with their now iconistic orange banners and bandanas. Many smaller groups and individuals against U.S. occupations participated in the Recreate ‘68 action. Towards the end of the march, a Fox News reporter was surrounded by demonstrators and physically removed from the action.
As the day wore on, the Alliance for Real Democracy held a Funk the War march at 2:15 p.m. on the 16th Street Mall in downtown. The event brought out more than 1,000 people — including members of Code Pink and Iraq Veterans Against the War — in a funky dance party against U.S. occupations.
But as the march progressed down the sidewalks of Denver, Unconventional Denver had another action planned. The Imperial March, a Star Wars anthem, started blaring when the procession hit California Street with the anti-authoritarian group taking a left turn away from the Funk the War march as it hoisted black and orange flags.
Within the pink-tanks decorated with anti-authoritarian symbols, were speakers and amplifiers that blasted revolutionary anthems and dance music. Boom boxes sounded from around the action in tune and in time with the music coming from the tanks. Many from the Funk the War march joined Unconventional Denver’s festive impromptu street party, as well as others from Recreate ‘68’s activities in Civic Center Park. At its peak more than 600 people reclaimed the streets of Denver blocking intersections and sending police scrambling.
The protesters snaked their way through Denver encountering bike cops and riot police who stood their ground guarding delegate hotels and corporate stores. Undercover cops, whose presence was obvious to many from the start, actively infiltrated the street party.
The action stopped by three major delegate hotels: the Brown Palace, Sheraton, and the Hyatt. As the party made its way down 16th Street toward the Civic Center the demonstrators took over a major intersection on Colfax and Broadway — backing up traffic for almost a mile.
The action then moved through the Democratic Marketplace — a DNC sponsored bizarre selling a variety of green, Democratic Party, and guilt-free wares — chanting “A! Anti! Anti-capitalista!” There was a look of shock and wonder on the faces of the DNC-goers in the marketplace who were clad in Democratic paraphernalia.
As the demonstrators made their way through the Civic Center Park, riot police armed with pepperball rifles and full riot gear made their presence known. After leaving the democratic marketplace, the Street Party proceeded to blockade two nearby intersections that resulted in tense standoffs with police. At the first stand-off a teenage boy was dragged off by police and arrested while officers peppersprayed demonstrators who refused to leave the streets.
The march ended with riot cops knocking people out of the way as they swarmed both pink-music tanks and surrounded them in formation. A police commander claimed he had heard there were rocks and bottles within but after inspection both tanks were released.
As Food not Bombs served a meal to hundreds nearby, a group of nearly 100 spontaneously took the action forward back down the 16th Street Mall. Another tense standoff ensued as riot police corralled the demonstrators and gave a dispersion order. Many demonstrators made a quick escape through a nearby parking garage and there were no arrests.