Ric Urrutia, with his diversity of talents, reports for us from the scene of the protests as the Dems gather in Denver for their convention. The Denver Police have certainly lived up to their reputation as some of the worst in the nation. Thanks Ric, take it away —
I have to say, for the first hour of the Recreate ’68 anti-war rally/march I was nothing but disappointed in the turnout. I think at its peak, the rally was about 2,000 people strong. I was expecting 50,000. I was expecting the masses, tear gas, arrests, beatings, fancy new crowd control devices, pain, helicopters, tire-burnings, an ocean of pigs all over the place.
The media asked Glen, the most publicly known organizer for Recreate ’68, “where are the masses?” enough times for him to share his response from the podium. Glen had a good analysis. To paraphrase: “And what are these people? [pointing at the crowd] Do they not count? Are they not the masses? The city and the cops got what they wanted, they scared the shit out of everyone. What do you expect to happen when there’s thousands of pigs all over the place with barricades and freedom cages? These are some pretty brave people that made it out today.”
He was right.
I was terrified on my way there. I stopped to take that first picture of the barricades and my hands would not stop shaking. I had already thought about what it would be like to be gassed and beaten by the cops and wondered what landing in the hospital in that condition without health insurance would look like. Yeah, I was fucking terrified. And so were a few other people I had spoken to beforehand.
We’ve read full newspaper spreads about the freedom cage to detain protesters. We’ve heard and seen military helicopters flying over Colfax Avenue practicing “urban anti-terrorism” drills. I then reflected on how those choppers were practicing for warfare with me, a “terrorist” as defined by the Patriot Act.
That’s all the city had to do! Duh! Why didn’t I realize that?! Scare the shit out of everyone to keep them from going to the rallies! Of course turnout is gonna be low and the mayor comes off looking like a champ cuz he showed the world that 1) not too many people are pissed off about the war 2) groups like Recreate ’68 could be dealt with by scaring the living shit out of the rest of the population and through slander and 3) there’s no reason why we have to resort to tear gas to deal with this small group of anarchists, communists and malcontents.
It was interesting to get a look at the media’s perks during the DNC. As you know, I play bass for Debajo del Agua. Two nights ago we played a show for an international press gathering hosted by the mayor. The show took place at Elitches, a Six Flags amusement park within spitting distance of downtown Denver. The mayor was expecting 10,000-17,000 people and well, so was Debajo del Agua (they were 16,700 people short for our performance but that’s another blog). What’s going on inside? The international media is being catered to. Like, nicely: free booze, free food, free cotton candy, free fried bread powdered sugar things, free stuff animals for not guessing your age correctly, free performances by some of Denver’s bands and of course: free rides. And sure, this is nothing new but…
What reporter in her/his right mind is gonna write a negative article about the police state in Denver when they’re being fed Captain Morgans (who, btw is “running for president”), watermelon on toothpicks and have free and continuous access to the Tower of Doom?
Back to the rally: one interesting moment was when this Fox News reporter wanted to interview Ward Churchill and physically pushed my friend Shareef (also a journalist) out of the way in an effort to do so. Shareef was in the process of interviewing Ward himself and things escalated. Twice.
The first time I saw the Fox News guy surrounded by media and protesters. Yo, I kid you not, I was like scared for that guy. I thought our little group was getting ready for a four-horse dismemberment. People were pissed! Things calmed down after a few minutes though.
The second time was with Shareef directly. I honestly don’t know why this whole exchange was divided into two acts but I’m just reporting the facts here. This time the Fox News reporter “resolved” the issue by “letting” Shareef say whatever he wanted (minus the cuss words) on live television. Shareef agreed and spoke on Dick Cheney, Haliburton and how the rise of fascism includes the merging of state and capital. Short and sweet!
Once the camera was turned off and Shareef started walking away he turned to the Fox News reporter once more and said “oh yeah, and tell Bill O’Reilly: ‘fuck you!'” to the cheers and laughter of the surrounding crowd. Fucking classic.