So Tent State University is on the outs with their protest brethren at Re-create '68. What gives? Last Friday, when the ACLU held a press conference to declare it had filed a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Denver and the Secret Service, it seemed that all was well in the land of DNC protest. On hand at the confab were representatives of Re-create '68 – Glenn Spagnuolo and Mark and Barbara Cohen – as well as those of Tent State University, Code Pink and Escuela Tlatelolco and the American Indian Movement of Colorado. But more significant were the additional groups listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit: United for Peace and Justice, the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, and the American Friends Service Committee.
This list was important because all three of the pacifist outfits had told Westword last October that they were NOT interested in working with R-68, which had pronounced itself the umbrella organizer for DNC protests as early as January 2007. Leaders of the Colorado Progressive Coalition, the Colorado Green Party and the national ANSWER Coalition expressed similar sentiments about R-68. The conflict was over R-68’s unfortunate name – a reference to the bloody 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago – and the rhetoric of the group’s leadership, interpreted by many as needlessly aggressive and reckless. Despite this blatant rift, Spagnuolo and the Cohens stuck with their assertion that their group would be playing host to “tens of thousands of protesters” this August.
So the fact that orgs like United for Peace and Justice – a national network of 1,400 groups – had signed on to the ACLU lawsuit suggested that R-68 and the peaceniks had resolved their differences. But appearances can be deceiving. In advance of the lawsuit filing, apparently critics of R-68, as well as some of their former supporters,had been quietly lobbying Spagnuolo and the Cohens for weeks to back off their leadership roles -- but the trio declined to transfer organizing authority.
Now it seems that the shit has hit the fan for R-68. Sources within the DNC protest movement say that assorted organizers are meeting today at an undisclosed location to discuss building a network outside of R-68. But things could get tricky when it comes time to divvy up the park event permits that Spagnuolo and company hold after winning them in a city-sponsored lottery. Will R-68 go quietly into the good night? Stay tuned. – Jared Jacang Maher
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UPDATE: Spagnuolo says that, while discussions were had, he was never asked to back off his leadership role or tone down his message. Several sources told Westword otherwise.