Recreate '68 Plans to Do Just That

Chicago in 1968 was a place of violence and chaos. Some activists would like to re-create those good old days.

Some groups even think R-68 may be too soft. Unconventional Action, which was born out of the Crimethinc network of anarchists, is recruiting people to protest at the DNC and RNC conventions. The group aims to organize a series of actions that will "shut down the DNC," according to its website, and has been holding a series of "consultas" across the country to build strategy. The Denver Consulta was held on October 5 at a location near downtown and was attended by forty anarchists representing outfits from across the West. Spagnuolo was invited to speak about the mission of R-68.

"A lot of them are younger folks," he remembers, "and they were very excited and happy to hear about the more — I don't want to say aggressive, but the more demanding-type approach that R-68 is taking. We're going to be working with lots of anti-authoritarian groups. And we're not going to be telling people what to do or how to do it."

Four days after the Columbus Day Parade, the protesters held a press conference. After they'd run out into the street, Morris and Spagnuolo had been taken into custody without incident. But others felt they were manhandled by cops, including a female pastor from the Iliff School of Theology who showed a picture of her neck being bent in a police pressure hold. Another protester had to be taken to the hospital. Nearly all of the 88 arrested on October 6 were held in jail overnight, even after they'd posted bail.

Glenn Spagnuolo has been a key player in the Columbus Day protests, Recreate '68 and Woodbine Ranch.
Jim J. Narcy
Glenn Spagnuolo has been a key player in the Columbus Day protests, Recreate '68 and Woodbine Ranch.
Glenn Morris has been fighting Colorado's Columbus Day for almost twenty years.
Jim J. Narcy
Glenn Morris has been fighting Colorado's Columbus Day for almost twenty years.

Russell Means argued that what had happened to him qualified as torture: He'd been placed in an isolation cell where the buzz of the fluorescent lights bothered him, and his heart medication had been withheld for a time. He said he planned to file a civil suit against the sheriff's department and Denver's mayor, who'd "ordered protesters to be held for the maximum amount of time."

One female protester asked if they could "expect similar treatment at the DNC."

Civil-rights attorney Walter Gerash was there to support the protesters, and will take many of their cases on charges ranging from disrupting a public assembly to resisting arrest. The protesters intend to plead not guilty and take each case to a jury trial. Morris and Spagnuolo will certainly use that forum to further decry Columbus. But they also hope that the legal cases will focus attention on how the city deals with protesters: a protest for a protest for a protest. "We want to put the city attorney's office on notice," Morris says. "They'd better be ready to cancel their vacations."

When he was arrested, Spagnuolo gave Woodbine Ranch as his home address — but now he and his wife must move out by mid-November. According to Stavropoulos, the Woodbine project will move ahead without Spagnuolo. Stavropoulos had his former employee sign a statement of confidentiality regarding the Woodbine project, so Spagnuolo has kept silent on the subject.

But he still has plenty to say about plans for the upcoming convention, when protests "will make the 1968 DNC look like a small gathering." And in honor of the Chicago 7, the group of protesters who went on trial after that convention, those arrested on Columbus Day have already started calling themselves the Denver 88.

"They couldn't process 88 of us in a constitutional manner and get us out of jail in less than 32 hours," Spagnuolo concludes. "What's going to happen when you have 888 people arrested in a day? We're all in a lot of trouble when it comes to the DNC."

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