Police ultimately arrested 106 very “scary-looking” anarchists after this. Click here to see the mug shot slideshow that Rocky Mountain News felt so obliged to post. But according to a use-of-force police report obtained by the ACLU of Colorado, undercover Denver detectives staged this stand-off between protesters and police.
After the struggle between a police commander and and unknown number of undercovers, the riot police unleashed their power onto the protesters who stood there penned in by six times as many riot police. The commander knew some of the anarchists were working undercover, and the plan was to pull them out of the crowd and pretend they were under arrest so protesters would be none the wiser.
The report says that the commander and an undercover detective were sprayed, but it does not indicate how many others were affected. (Oh, other people?) The report also doesn’t say whether the pepper spray used on the undercover police was the first deployment of chemicals that night or whether the police riot was already underway. Then again, with a situation like this, the police riot is a dialectical necessity. It had to happen no matter what anybody did to stop it.
Protesters, witnesses, and media that I spoke to myself that night agreed that the police first agitated non-violent crowds of people in Civic Center Park by standing extremely close to the protesters in battalion-like formations, wielding their riot weapons, and walking through lines of people waiting for food and pushing them out of the way. The entire park was swarming with police and nothing had even happened, just talking and eating – you know, stuff people normally do in parks!
When a group of about 50 anti-capitalists started jumping up-and-down and chanting, “a-anti-anti-capitalista!”, this aggravated the riot police for some reason, and they crashed into nearby people to get a closer look. The anti-capitalist group then locked arms and somehow marched about a block-and-a-half down the street before they were surrounded and peppersprayed as you saw in the video above. The police then severely beat and hospitalized several protesters and arrested over a hundred.
The ACLU contends videos show that protesters, as well as otherwise uninvolved onlookers, were never ordered or given a chance to disperse before they were surrounded and detained by police.
This was our report from Day 1 of occupied Denver.
The charges, some of them as silly as Noah Jacobs on behalf of Rogue Valley IMC pointed out, were either dropped later or plead to right away. If the protesters accepted their riot charges they would be fined a certain amount but let out of jail within the following days. Most protesters, still wanting to have an influence on the Democrats, the delegates, and the convention atmosphere, accepted the plea bargains and the charges. The ACLU’s letter was received by the Denver Police Chief, but he refused to give a comment or return any calls.