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Dueling Press Conferences at the Courthouse!

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That was awkward.

Unconventional Action, the anarchist DNC protest group, just held a press conference on the steps of the Denver City and County Building even as local religious and political figures, members of We Believe Colorado, were setting up for a press conference of their own.

What’s a reporter to do?! You juxtapose.

The bandanna-clad anarchists called for the city to spend the $50 million in federal DNC security funds on local schools and stuff – and in return, they said they would call off their protests. It sure made for a great photo-op, though they might have been better off directing their demand toward the adjacent press conference.

Along with an impressive collection of spiritual leaders (Catholics, Hebrew, Methodist, Muslim, Episcopal), the We Believe gathering also included three Denver City Council members (Paul Lopez, Rick Garcia and Peggy Lehman) who actually have the power to approve or deny how such security money will be spent. These speakers, however, were there to denounce the very scary Initiative 100 -- which would require police to impound cars driven by illegal immigrants, or anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant -- claiming it would result in racial profiling and a massive overextension of city resources.

Coincidentally, the anarchists railed against many of the same issues -- except in reference to a proposal that council is presently attempting to rush into law before the DNC hits town. Council Bill 397 would allow the police to search and arrest anyone they think might be in possession of an object, tool or “noxious substance” that could be used with the intent of obstructing the police or public rights-of-way during a protest.

If approved, spokesman Ben Yager said, the ordinance would lead to massive round-ups and arrests of potential protesters during (and prior to) the convention based solely on the intent perceived by an officer or other security official. Moreover, any potential obstruction could be confiscated. A bike, perhaps – or a car.

And how does one decide that one person carrying a bike lock is fine while another person carrying a bike lock is a threat? You create a profile. Kind of like what an officer would have to do if they were forced by law to try to figure out if a passing vehicle was being driven by undocumented immigrants.

Dueling press conferences: awkward. – Jared Jacang Maher

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