Katherine Archuleta, Mayor Hickenlooper’s Senior Policy Advisor and point-person for the Democratic National Convention, poked fun at members of protest group Re-create 68 in the audience by asserting that less than a dozen protesters will show up in Denver.
The statement came yesterday evening at a DNC safety forum for Lower Downtown residents organized by the Mayor’s office and Denver Police. The confab was held in a packed auditorium below the Wynkoop Brewery, the restaurant and bar established by Hickenlooper twenty years ago. Officials explained road closures and security credentialing, but a reoccurring question from the large crowd was how many protesters did the city expect in the week.
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Staffers deflected the question several times, but when quizzed a third time by a female resident, Archuletta said, “Ten. I think there will be about ten protesters.”
The response got plenty of chuckles from the audience. Two people who were not laughing, however, were longtime activists and Re-create 68 organizers Mark and Barbara Cohen, seated at a table in the third row. Since helping form the group last year, the Cohens had taken part in several sit-downs with Archuletta and other officials over various DNC-related concerns. Perhaps noting the couple’s displeasure with her comment, Archuletta added, “Barbara and Mark think there will be ten thousand. We don’t know.”
Nobody knows for sure, but the number will certainly be more than ten, and probably more than ten thousand, considering that Re-create 68 is just one of several groups trying to draw protesters to Denver. But while the number Archuletta threw out was in jest, her tone was not. It was the first time that a city official has publicly countered the expected size of DNC demonstrations, a figure that has been inflated to a massive 100,000 in some media reports. It fits in with the Mayor’s recent campaign to allay the fears of business owners and residents that security and protests will put the downtown on lockdown.
Still, if Archuletta really believed her downplay, then why is the city adding thousands of cops from adjacent cities to their DNC force and employing separate jailing facilities whose locations are still undisclosed. Kinda seems like a lot for a measly ten protesters. – Jared Jacang Maher