The Party is in the Streets! A Personal Account of Reclaiming the Streets in Occupied Denver

This is the tale of how anarchists and other dissidents took and held the streets for nearly three hours this Sunday, preceding the Democratic National Convention. Just about everyone I've talked to has pegged it as wildly successful. We suffered one arrest, a 12 yr old boy! The police really showed their true colors with that. Legal is working to make sure he's taken care of. If anyone has more on how to help him out, please post it to indymedia.

Allin all though, the march inspired demonstrators, defied the cops and brought in new folks off the street and ended in a totally impromptu second wind through downtown. We've shown the City of Denver that we won't be intimidated by their police and that the real party (and change) comes from the streets, it won't be found hiding behind the barricades of the cops.

I was walking briskly down 17th street, heading to Union Station where the Funk the War Party was converging. I had misjudged the distance and was trying to quickly get to the party. All along side me were armored trucks with riot police hanging off the sides, officers marching northward equipped with pepper ball rifles and plastic handcuffs, and dozens upon dozens of unmarked vans, black SUVs and sheriff cars representing all the nearby police municipalities. Needless to say, the city was definitely flexing its $50 million security budget.

Walking with a few friends to the action, I honestly couldn't imagine actually having fun. The police presence was effectively intimidating and a strange hush held in the air, even on the somewhat bustling 16th street pedestrian mall.

When we joined up with the march people were still on the sidewalk. The police were heavily following the procession and folks not interested in continuing the party were pettering out. While there was some music playing from a single sound system, the action was a far cry from the festive dance party being called for. People, myself included, were anxiously waiting to see how things would turn out.

Suddenly, the disguised sound systems cranked on and the Imperial March was blaring through speakers. Orange flags lead the march into the streets of 16th and the anxiety was broken. People started dancing to the follow up pop song and soon some raucous chants broke out.

We had taken the streets and the police had acquiesced. The party snaked through downtown, picking up momentum and energy. We would pass at an intersection to bust some moves in the streets and continue on.

The action would ebb and flow- moving from more somber marching through the streets, pick up into a spirited chant and flow through with us hugging our comrades and waving at the onlookers. A lot of folks looked excited to see the action going down, even if they weren't sure if they should align themselves with the anticapitalists. I think the simple fact that we were holding ourselves high in a fun and assertive way, gained a lot of approval in a previous situation of extreme tenseness of the police state.

The whole feel of the city was transforming. I felt like anything was possible. The power was no longer in the hands of the hundreds officers marching along, but instead with the people in the streets- jumping and dancing as the awkward police lines struggle to catch up.

We ended up reaching our destination at Civic Center Park where a bizarre bonanza of Obama paraphenalia and free handouts of really bad energy-laden water was being distributed. Again, there were quite a few smiles amongst the mostly silent and perplexed Democrats. We snaked through the booths of Obama t-shirts and Allstate table, ending up at Broadway, where danced, clapped and shouted some more. The force of the crowd was palpable and as the police attempted to slowly move in, the mass of revelers quickly spread out, again determinedly taking our stance.

As the music was blaring on Broadway, some people started to spread the party outward onto Lincoln Park. Somewhere during that time a young boy, who looked to me to be 11 or 12 was nabbed by the police. I didn't see how it happened or what provoked it, but I saw him being held with his arms behind his back by two officers. The kid was obviously scared and despite us vigorously shouting "Let Him Go!!" He was carted off.

I wish I knew more about his situation, but all I know is that the Legal Team is taking care of it. This all happened with the Democrats silently looking on from the other side of Broadway- a telling visual of the kind of change they represent as they cynically call for people to "join the movement." What kind of movement is fortified by a police state that hauls of 12 year olds?

The crowd eventually shifted across Lincoln Park to Lincoln Street, directly in front of the Capitol. The mood relaxed a bit as people knew we had won. We had made it back to the park and were going to be given sanctuary. A lot of people still stayed in the street to continue singing and dancing. Folks sat down at the parks to chat and look on. A lot of new folks had been pulled in at this point. I overheard a really genuine, spirited and respectful discussion happening between two women- one an Obama enthusiast and the other anarchist. It was exciting to see folks exchanging ideas in a nonconfrontational way.

Then at some point the mass spontaneouly decided they weren't done- it was time to bring the party back to 16th street. So, without much real direction the demonstrators snaked back down the streets to weave through the downtown shopping district.

This contingent, though still with a strong anarchist presence, had brought a lot of new folks into the fold, many of them the most jubilant and passionate, with people I'd never seen before shouting chants at the top of their lungs atop newspaper stands. I saw a few different moms with their children marching along, as well as some local youth. Again, a lot of the onlookers were clapping along (though still a lot of perplexity was to be had).

I started to get the feeling that the directionless of the march was going to lead to some trouble and started consulting my affinity group. We decided, since all of us were nonarrestable and had already pushed things much more than we ever anticipated, that we would duck out quietly.

It was at that point however, that the march hit a police line, double backed and was then fenced in on both ends of the street. Some folks eating at the few cafes were stuck in the middle, but the police refused to break their lines. Us, along with some other folks, saw people slipping through an office building. A super friendly guy was directing people through a back exit that lead to an alley. We slipped through and joined back up with the shoppers, protesters and delegates.

After following up, we've been told no one was arrested and that people were able to fan out.

The action was a resounding success in my opinion. After entering my beloved city fearing for my life, I left it feeling the power of people coming together to make real their desires. I know this account is a bit over the top and there are definite elements that could have been stronger, but I just can't discount the high that so many people were feeling. We made our presence known, we confronted the police state with joy, humor and lawlessness and people in Denver are excited for the rest of the week. This shit is gonna be hot.

Great recap

I was there and you captured the spirit and the events perfectly. I hope it keeps up!

Yes, thanks for posting this

I am sad not to be there and this raises my spirits. A great report, look forward to more.

Each of you represents your sister and brother anarchists who cannot be there in Denver for every reason from incarceration to just sheer distance and poor planning... so when you are joyfully taking action against the police state you have the force of many many behind you and with you, we love and support you all!

The 1st arrest from the DNC

As many know this convention is an important one in our current history. It means an end to a administration that has done nothing but given us and many others in the world, hardship after hardship. Now is a time to look forward to the future and hope that past mistakes can be corrected and that this nation can once again be looked at as the shining beacon of hope that it once was. So with this stated, I present to you, the first example of what will most likely become a daily event to many that are there to peacefully protest things that they would like to see changed in the government. I was witness to this first arrest/detainment (I didn't witness what caused the persons involved to become a suspect and detained by the authorities). I can only show what the aftermath was in the attached photo. While this was happening, I did see an officer pointing his weapon toward the crowd (an AR-15 style weapon that is chambered to fire non-lethal projectiles). The officer then fired two shots toward one individual that attempted to request that the officer release the person they were detaining (I didn't physically see this person touch the officer(s) involved). Another office then approached this individual and physically accosted him by grabbing him by the throat and shoving him forcefully back into the crowd. This individual was hit twice by these shots, once in the left side of the neck, just behind the ear and once in the abdomin (I also have photos of the after effects on this person, it is nothing more that welts, but I'm sure the initial effect and the bruising that will follow, was/is rather unpleasant).

So take care this week, say what you have to say and do what you have to do, but remember the man is watching you and as backwards as it is, his word will carry or weight in their system than ours, even with multiple witnesses. Liberty and Justice for all.....we'll see.

Solidarity

Much love and respect to all those kicking things off the right way. I'll see you in the streets...

Truth is the first casualty of class war

I was there to witness a confrontation between the Police and the Radicals, and I need to say that I am disgusted with the shit that you think you could've gotten away with.

The entire march was highlighted by strange, belligerent behaviour. Anyone with so much as an Obama t-shirt on his person was threatened, and the poor fools who tried to stand up for themselves, their party and their candidate were attacked viciously without warning.

Police were taunted relentlessly and had garbage thrown at them. One particularly twisted black bloc member repeatedly tried to bait a black cop with racial slurs and insults. "You fucking nigger pig! Go back to Iraq!" No doubt he was out of his mind on whatever mix of drugs that was swimming in his head...

What the Fuck? Indymedia claims to be a bastion of truth, coverage of the world that the corporate media won't dare give you. Yet here it is, equally baised coverage, only this time bent in the direction of a handful of trust fund assholes, thinking they can change the world if they cause enough property damage to the local Starbucks.

Grow the Fuck Up!

Thanks for the report. I feel

Thanks for the report. I feel like you think anarchists look a certain way. It's a politics, not fashion. Maybe lots of the mom and kid crowd, while not sporting the ever-awesome black hoody look, were anarchists too.

What a bunch of self-congratulatory BS

Do you really think the average American gives half a shit about your “solidatarity networks” and your “radical direct action”?

You are a non-existant political force in America and, infact, the whole world.

Do you really believe the American people will stand up and march along side you and wave your black and red flags?

You don’t have ANY mass support. You’re just a tiny fringe group of political extremists on the margins of society.

Sometimes it takes a match...

...to start the FIRE!

Radical movements are greatly needed, and when voting, protesting, and petitions don't work, DIRECT ACTION is the only option left!

Do you really think that the corrupt govt would have given a shit what Dr. Martin L King said if Malcolm X was never born?

We sometimes need to scare the government with 'radical' tactics just so they take the movement as a whole seriously...

Malcolm X was the real leader of the civil rights movement, and his 'extremism' made King seem to be a much more likeable choice...

Remember that the people who supposedly 'govern' us are n't that bright, and they sometimes need some prodding, and kicking to do the right thing...

And the proof's in the pudding... The IVAW (Iraq Veterans against the war) was granted a meeting with Obama to negotiate terms... That would NEVER have happened if there wasnt 6000 angry shouting protesters behind them, backing them up...

just think about it...

peace,
ae

Awesome

That was a great account of what happened that day, and it's certainly one of the awesomest things I've attended in a long time.