Sunday, November 13, 2016

Peacable Assembly

Circa August 2008, Pepsi Center. Denver, Colorado

The motives of protesters, despite shouted invectives and artfully-phrased signs, is sometimes hard to discern. Come with me...

I was one of two supervisors responsible for first floor security in the Pepsi Center during the Democratic National Convention. When trouble started, I usually made my way there, if only to have an idea of what we might have to do in response.

The mob had formed somewhere else, and materialized at the gate separating "The Venue" from the rest of Denver. A tall fence ringing the building ran along the north edge of Auraria Parkway, with breaks every so often where the magnetometers were. By the time I got there, protesters were shouting, rattling the small barricades set about (bike racks, actually) and putting on their best mad-as-hell faces. This was the "Recreate '68" crowd. Officers of my police department (including SWAT), Denver and Colorado Springs faced off.

I was alive in '68. I remember the riots in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention. There was teargas, there were clubs. Blood was spilled, skulls were cracked and a very messy scene showed the world our shit wasn't entirely together. What were they protesting?

Our involvement in the Vietnam war. America had gotten herself embroiled in a mess. In an awful expression of "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" we were trying to support democracy, limit the expansion of communism and end aggression in South Vietnam. For all of the heroism, sacrifice and battlefield skill of our fighters, things seemed to be going backward, even as several hundred Americans (and a tragic number of Vietnamese civilians) perished every week. The outgoing president in charge was a Democrat. Fair enough.

What puzzled me, standing on the calm side of the Mag Stand, was...

The War against Terrorism, begun with popular support and swiftly fought, had evolved into something akin to Vietnam. Americans died, disagreements evolved over tactics and strategery, and we seemed to be going in circles.

But... A largely unpopular Republican president had overseen the operation. The Democrats were poised to nominate a black candidate who was wildly fawned over and expected to win big. The whole Party had every chance of taking over come 2009. What the frick?

Among other things, it was a social event. Oh, there were the violent assholes who will descend at any such event and use it as an excuse (or cover) to attempt mayhem. There were the anarchists, who apparently believe that any government is morally bankrupt - sort of the "You're-Not-The-Boss-Of-Me" party. Sprinkled among the throng were folks who were truly protesting a government that fed itself first, regardless of party (eight years later, I'll bet they voted for you-know-who).

I was watching a happening, a group of people caught up in the emotion of a mass event and reacting for reasons defying the rational. Years later they would reminisce, ensconced in a booth at the club, drinking a boutique cocktail and getting ready to return to their law firm, about that wonderful day they were eyeball-to-eyeball with The Man. Good times.


Maybe,this is an extrovert issue! 

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