Two things of significance happened in the vicinity of Federal and Colfax on Thursday. The best attended and covered was Barack Obama's acceptance speech of the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party. I saw portions of the speech in a restaurant with the sound off, but intend to listen to it in full soon. Ten hours or so before Obama took the stage at Mile High, a few thousand immigrants rights supporters gathered for a march. The police
presence was lower than at the stadium and lower than at the Recreate 68 marches, but the participants were just as energized. The organizers had set up their own security team to keep folks inside the boundaries of the parade route -- a more friendly rapport than cops with guns and body armor.
Before the march, Aztec dancers honored the directions
and some folks gave speeches. Boxes of bilingual red and white signs
were distributed. Attendance seemed around two thirds Hispanic with a few Asians and African-Americans and a fair number of familiar activist faces from earlier in the week. The Backbone Campaign brought the Organic Farmer and Free Trade Coffee puppets and the 14-foot inflated Statue of Liberty
. Marchers included a few kids in strollers
and some elders
, but the majority were in their teens through forties or so. There were several large banners
and plenty of home made signs
to compliment the ubiquitous printed red signs.
The march ended in a park and the Aztecs drummed and danced some more
before a variety of speakers took the stage while Food Not Bombs gave out free burritos and a few organizations distributed literature
. Starting the march in shade around 10 and ending in shade around 11 felt great. The messages were on the whole quite positive: Support for immigrants as people, keeping families together (and thereby opposing ICE raids), and recognition of immigrants as a key strength in the U.S. economy. There was stronger overt support for Obama
than in the radical left marches earlier in the week with several rounds of "Sí Se Puede." Given the anti-immigrant vitriol on cable news, I was surprised to only see one counter-protester
and that was at the bus stop after I left the speeches.
After the march I returned home to rest my blistered feet, sort through photos, and hang out with mollybzz
and a new friend. I had a great week, took lots of great photos, met some swell people, and got my RDA of exercise through walking. It was good to relax, take a shower, and enjoy the quiet atmosphere of a coffee shop. I wish luck to the folks hoping to spread their message outside the RNC.
Some shouts out for the week:
- Food Not Bombs for keeping activists, homeless folks, and fed and creating a shady and relaxed atmosphere to hang out
- Code Pink for being fabulous, ubiquitous, and on-message all over downtown
- The Backbone Campaign for creating great street art and presenting a positive message
- The many groups who organized the immigrants rights march
- Iraq Veterans Against the War for using their socially-granted status of respect to stand for peace
- Alliance for Real Democracy for embracing nonviolence and for not naming themselves after a year when a lot of bad stuff happened
- Street medics for making sure everyone had sunscreen and being ready in case anyone had a problem
- Police officers assigned to march duty for gently keeping folks in the parade route and not doing anything that would escalate into conflict
- Citizens of Denver who independently shared their own political or amusing messages
- Homeless guys who hung around downtown so that visitors could encounter some of Denver's normal flavor
- National Lawyers Guild for keeping an eye on the cops
I hope these blog entries have proved informative and enjoyable. I haven't seen any mainstream media coverage of the DNC, so I don't know how extensively they covered what was going on outside. My big colorful hat got me at least six short interviews, but I couldn't even find the section of the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News the interviewers said they were from. I'm far from an unbiased source, but my goal has been to share whatever messages folks on the streets have, whether I agree with them or not. My photos
of the DNC
are all free for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike
license. In 1968, gathering tens of thousands of people in the streets was a fairly effective way to share information. In 2008, the Internet has made information dissemination easy; everyone who shows up in a march already knows all about the issues. We cal all be the media.