“Funk the War!” stood out amongst the signs offering kettle corn, salted nuts and burritos as Rockies fans funneled past the intersection of 20th and Blake streets on July 3. While an American flag is not an unusual sight the day before the Fourth of July, it certainly drew more attention than curbside scalpers.
Particularly when it was beside another sign that read “Drop Beats, Not Bombs!,” in protest of weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin contributing thousands of mini American flags to game attendees that night. The baseball marketing stunt was reminiscent of the Denver Broncos 2003 air strike for patriotism at Invesco Field in the months following the Iraq invasion.
Jared Hood, dressed in his military uniform, stood silently before the main entrance to Coors Field. The 25-year-old had served the United States from 2003 to 2007; he held a banner that read, "Iraq Veterans Against the War."
These protesters considered Lockheed Martin's flag contribution as nothing more than war profiteering. And "war profiteering on the Fourth of July weekend is not patriotic," said Hood.
Instead of seeing red, the protesters used all three patriotic colors to push independent thought. "We want to reclaim the flag," explained JoJo Pease of Students for a Democratic Society as she sat on the rim of a rented pick-up truck and carefully folded flags on top of her knee. SDS was handing out these oppositional flags and explanatory literature to people entering Coors Field.
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"We realize this is a family event and didn't want to turn kids off or make anyone feel uncomfortable," said the DU grad student.
SDS members did come armed, though: with music, courtesy a performance by Johnny 5 of Flobots and some break-dancers. But while the spontaneous "flash mob" protest was both peaceful and fun, it did have a serious undertone. And members of SDS are serious about their cause, Pease noted. Originally founded to protest the Vietnam War in the 60s, the SDS was brought back in 2006, to promote a student movement that encompassed progressive change and is now one of the fastest-growing student organizations in the nation.
The group is part of the DNC protest coalition Alliance for Real Democracy that is organizing a free concert in City Park that provisional permit for 20,000 attendees, but could draw as many as 50,000 during the week of the convention. --Kimberly Berkey