I wasn’t going to talk to the two young cops hanging out in front of Denver’s Convention Center, just waiting for trouble to break out. But Tracey Barnett wanted to pop off a few shots of them all dressed up in their police paraphernalia.
Tracey is a freelance journalist from New Zealand. We just met an hour before in the Specialty Media Lounge where we talked about her website, my blog, our spouses, our children and, of course, Barack Obama and politics. We were on our way to catch the shuttle to Pepsi Center when the Denver cops caught her eye. After Tracey finished clicking, I couldn’t help but start shooting off a few questions.
I wanted to know if they knew how many and who the protesters were. Since I was hanging out in the convention center and in the Pepsi Center with the delegates, I had no idea what was happening on the streets. He rattled off a few of the groups, Recreate 68, Code Pink and the anarchists.
Not a word about the right-to-lifers. I thought they’d at least get honorable mention. Yesterday morning I’d attended the African American Caucus where a young white man disrupted the meeting by yelling out that Barack Obama equaled genocide. Before he could finish spewing out his rehearsed lines, he was being whisked away by a couple of law officers. "Obama" had already drowned his words out "Obama! Obama! Obama!" chants from the thousand or so DNC delegates seated in the auditorium. About 10 minutes later, another young white man in a different part of the crowd jumped up, attempting to repeat the same performance. He got the same treatment.
So, I thought, the anti-choice crowd was not making its mark. “It’s the anarchists,” one of the two young officers said, casually charging that they had been throwing plastic bags filled with excrement at him and others among Denver’s finest.
“Anarchists? I thought they had played out long ago,” I said.
“They’re trying to make a comeback. They say they want anarchy but they’re trying to organize others. That makes no sense to me.”
I had to nod in agreement. “How many were there?”
“Maybe 500 or 600.”
Tracey had stopped her picture taking and was now in a questioning mode. She had them showing off their new tech weapons. One cop had a grenade launcher. He showed us the tear-gass filled plastic bombs it shot off. The other had an orange-handled rifle that shot rubber bullets. Up close, they both almost looked like toys.
Both types of weapons had been put to use just about the time Michelle Obama was speaking to the nation. That’s when the anarchists and the Denver police were battling downtown while virtually all of the 15,000 journalists here to cover the convention were inside the Pepsi Center listening to Michelle’s heart-felt, heart-warming speech about an American family, its past and the nation’s future.
Outside, the anarchists didn’t fare as well. If they had planned their protest better, they would have come with better police protection and would have picked a better time to call for no law and disorder.
(Top photo is one of the pictures Tracey Barnett shot. Special thanks to Rhonda Matthews for the photo of the group of Denver police)