Are Columbus Day protesters burned out after the DNC?
For Denver, the annual Columbus Day Parade and accompanying protests, arrests and ear-splitting rhetoric is a seasonal rite as familiar as the changing of the leaves. By this point in October, the anti-Columbus Day groups have held press conferences, hung posters and announced events several months in the planning. But in the wake of the Democratic National Convention, there's been silence from the usual suspects.
The websites for the Transform Columbus Day Alliance and the Colorado American Indian Movement haven't been updated in months and still feature fliers created before the 2007 parade, which marked the hundredth anniversary of Colorado becoming the first state in the country of creating a day to honor Columbus and resulted in protesters arrested during parade-stalling clashes. No luck either at the reliably radical www.TryWorks.org, where blogger Benjamin Whitmer, a University of Colorado instructor and Ward Churchill supporter, recently shut down operations (for more, go to blogs.westword.com/latestword).
On Monday, Colorado AIM leader Glenn Morris finally issued a flier announcing a meeting October 8 to finalize plans for the "All Nations March" to the Capitol that will step off at 9 a.m. on October 11. (Morris did not return Off Limit's calls or e-mails.)
The Columbus Day parade will start at 14th and Colfax at 10 a.m. and end up at the Capitol, but organizers don't expect to encounter much resistance. "Between Columbus Day last year and the DNC, I think they're just kind of burned out," says Sons of Italy parade organizer George Vendegnia. "I would be."
But if the protesters do show, Vendegnia thinks police should keep them at least a block away from the parade, as it did with groups demonstrating against the Democrats. "If they can do that for the DNC, why shouldn't they be able to do it for all parades or events?" he asks. "Everything has to be treated the same." The answer he got from the city attorney's office: The DNC was designated a National Special Security Event, which allowed law-enforcement officials to keep the public off of certain streets and sidewalks around the Pepsi Center and Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium.
But Mickie Clayton, president of a local Italian club, doesn't buy that explanation. She says Mayor John Hickenlooper was willing to get tough with DNC protesters because disruptions might have embarrassed the city on the national stage — but he won't do the same for local Columbus-lovers. "I'm going to get the word out that Denver's anti-Italian," Clayton says. "I think it's sinful the way they're treating us."
Mano Cockrum doesn't like the way the city's treated protesters, either. She sees police behavior both during the DNC and on past Columbus Days as part of an ongoing effort to stifle protest in Denver. "Citizens who practice voicing dissent and/or civil disobedience are the new terrorists in this country," she says. "It's sad." So sad that the student is picking up where her protesting elders left off, helping to organize an anti-Columbus walk-out on the Auraria campus on October 13.
And so the seasons turn.
Scene and herd: As talk of Colorado making another attempt to host the Olympics heats up, one relic of this state's last successful bid has come down. East Village was built to house all the media that boosters anticipated coming to Denver to cover the 1976 Winter Olympics — before Colorado residents voted to send the Olympics packing. With no press to house, East Village was turned into public housing....and now it's just an empty lot along 20th Avenue awaiting development.
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