The Denver Police Department “is asking all police, ambulance and fire personal to be on the lookout for stock piles and caches of supplies that could be used by violent demonstrators at the up coming Democratic National Convention [sic],” according to an official release that has been obtained by the Colorado ACLU. (I can’t find an online link to the document.)
In addition to clearly suspicious items like “chemicals” and “gas masks,” the Denver PD lists these items of concern:
Maps: “Maps are frequently used by violent protesters to plan direct actions against conventioneers.”
Bicycles: “Bicycles are used to blockade sidewalks, streets and can be used to slow down responding emergency vehicles.”
Helmets: “Football, baseball, motorcycle and bicycle helmets are all used by violent protesters.”
The document does not list other “supplies” that I have witnessed violent protesters use in the past, stuff like cell phones, shoes, pants, beards, peace sign patches, woolen beanies, ponytails, etc. etc. etc. The Denver ACLU has scheduled a press conference tomorrow to discuss the document. Also speaking at the press conference: a Denver activist and homeowner who was recently questioned by the police about bricks being unloaded at her house. Says the ACLU, “Although the bricks were acquired for masonry repairs, Denver police accused the activist of ‘stockpiling’ the bricks for the DNC.”
Just a few hours ago, I walked down Denver’s 16th Street Mall. A number of restaurants appeared to have stockpiled chairs and tables for patrons to sit at. The patrons themselves appeared to be stockpiling bottles of beer on the tables. I’m not sure what to think.
More seriously, there is no excuse or right for protesters to turn violent, and past conventions suggest that some people will probably come here next week to break the law. But the vast majority of protesters are certain to be peaceful and fully protected by the U.S. Constitution. The Denver Police Department, which has gotten in trouble in the past for being too aggressive in its investigation of political dissent, is walking a delicate line.
FOR MORE on the protest planning at the two conventions see my story here.