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Anti-Obama billboard protest: This time, the gas was turned off

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Last week, Pat Dunn, representing a group protesting an anti-Obama billboard at Wolf Interstate Leasing & Sales, 4855 Miller Street in Wheat Ridge, complained that Wolf personnel had left vehicles running with their exhaust pipes pointed in their direction, all by asphyxiating them in the process.

When asked about these claims, owner Phil Wolf initially expressed doubts that they'd actually happened. Then, after further investigation, he discovered they had, and promised that such tactics would end.

So how did the followup December 5 protest go? Dunn says the fumes were gone -- and so was much of the hostility that had been directed at her fellow picketers.

"It was like the difference between night and day," Dunn says. "Usually when we get there to set up, the salesmen come out and taunt us. But Saturday, we thought the place was closed, because no one taunted us."

In addition, "we didn't have anyone getting out of their cars and coming up to the picket line and screaming at us."

Some people from the previous week didn't man the picket line, having gotten ill for reasons Dunn associates with the gas attack. But despite unpleasant weather during the protest, the turnout was fairly strong, with twenty folks, including approximately eight men, making their feelings heard at various times during a three-hour-plus span.

Moreover, Dunn says, "people were more respectful. They'd come up, give us water, give us food, give us their contact information. More people wanted to get involved. It was an opportunity for us to network with the new people who came instead of worrying about nefarious tactics. It was almost pleasant."

No TV crews turned up to document the protest, but Dunn and company received some publicity locally (from AM 760 talk-show host David Sirota) and nationally (via her appearance on the Ed Schultz show, as well as the California blog LezGetReal.com, for which Dunn has been providing updates on her mission). Given such momentum, she's optimistic that the number of protesters who'll be at Wolf next Saturday, December 12, will be even larger.

"Our purpose, quite frankly, is to educate the public -- to make sure the public isn't numb to these horrible, unprecedented attacks we have seen against our president," she says. "Maybe a lot of people think Phil Wolf is a hero for putting up the billboard -- and I stress that he has the right to do that. But we find it offensive for many reasons, including that he's intimating that our president had something to do with Fort Hood. We had twelve people die at Fort Hood; it's a national tragedy. And for Phil Wolf to connect our president to that is unconscionable."

At this point, long-range weather reports suggest that next Saturday's conditions won't be too bad -- but Dunn says "if the weather is entirely too cold to go out and picket, we do have a plan B. We don't want to say what that is right now, but the fight will go on. We will not back down, because the billboard has got to go."

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