Denver DNC Protestors Get Punked

But the artist's prank doesn't sit well with its targets.

Such developments made Herzoff fear that DNC protests could deteriorate into the sort of chaos that took place around World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle circa 1999, not to mention the most recent Columbus Day parade in Denver. At the latter event, Herzoff argued, "police used pain-compliance holds and dressed in riot gear to intimidate us in advance of the Democratic National Convention. They were flexing their muscles to show what they were going to do at the DNC."

Herzoff and Spagnuolo planned to link such concerns to the flier and e-mail at the July 10 press conference — but learning at the last minute that an artist, not a cop, had been behind them threw a kink in their plans. Westword staff writer Jared Jacang Maher attended the get-together along with representatives of several TV stations, including channels 4 and 31, and a man carrying a whirligig mounted on a broomstick that depicted two policemen beating someone whenever the wind blew. According to Maher, Herzoff gave an opening address focusing on concerns about brutality at the DNC before mentioning that yours truly had told him that an artist claimed to be behind the mailing. But he called for an investigation anyway to confirm the perpetrator's identity, as did Spagnuolo, who blamed the city of Denver for creating an atmosphere in which something like the flier incident could happen.

This information proved far less interesting to the media attending the press conference than did the idea of an avenging boy in blue. None of the TV stations ran stories afterward, and the Rocky Mountain News, the only print outlet to cover the gathering, zeroed in on the revelation about the artist, not the prospect of DNC pandemonium. An investigation also seems like a non-starter. Rosenthal said his office wouldn't take further action because "there was no reasonable evidence to show a police officer was involved" and he has no jurisdiction over criminal allegations. He referred the complainants to the Denver district attorney, but a week after the incident, spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough said DA personnel weren't working the case.

For his part, the artist said he came forward when he did to save law enforcement the trouble of investigating the police when he was actually responsible: "It could have very easily become a situation where some poor FBI agent had to waste two hours of his afternoon figuring out that I'm just some kook, and that goes into my file — and I don't need that. I don't need to have a conversation with the police about why I did what I did."

If he avoids such a chat (and it looks like he will), he'll look back on his artistic shenanigans with some measure of pride. "Honestly, I didn't expect them to take it as seriously as they did," he admitted. "But I like it when my projects take on a life of their own. And in that regard, this one has been really quite successful."

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