Playing host to the Democratic National Convention was supposed to bring Denver a gusher of national publicity, and it has -- but a lot of it has been bad. Earlier this month, the New York Times smacked the DNC around in regard to rising costs. More recently, USA Today weighed in with an editorial blasting the approaches taken to keep convention protesters "out of sight and out of earshot."
"Our View on Civil Liberties: Convention Hosts Regard Your Rights As a Nuisance," published on July 21, puts its concerns over this situation right up front:
"The delegates who'll wave signs, speak their minds and nominate a presidential candidate at the Democratic National Convention next month in Denver will be treated by the city like royalty. But the people who want to wave signs, speak their minds and demonstrate outside the convention hall have already gotten a taste of Denver's hospitality. They're being treated like a bunch of pests."
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Shortly thereafter, Mayor John Hickenlooper takes a shot for a "February promise... that at least one designated parade route would end 'within sight and sound of the convention site'" -- a pledge that the editorial says was "essentially abandoned. The route now ends several blocks away, and parades must end one hour before convention sessions begin."
The piece declares that the folks in St. Paul, Minnesota, who will play host to the Republican National Convention, are "doing a bit better" -- but only a bit: "Marchers will be able to get within 84 feet of the Republican National Convention, but they must end the parade by midafternoon. Teresa Nelson of the ACLU of Minnesota says, 'We have a permit to march to an empty building.'"
The offering concludes with a quote from local activist Nita Gonzales, who accuses the city of paying "lip service to civil liberties." The USA Today scribes essentially agree with her assessment, noting that "it's tough to participate when you're behind a fence and blocks away from where you can be seen and heard."
That can't be the kind of publicity Denver officials wanted. -- Michael Roberts