The Widening Gyre: The DNC Does Its Business in the Hall (and One Protester Does His in a Bottle) While There's Some Heat in the Streets.
Today's main protest action came after (who else?) Rage Against the Machine played in the Denver Coliseum, and some of the crowd -- thousands according to the AP; at least 3,000 by The Denver Post's count -- marched towards the convention hall behind a cadre of veterans against the war. The group hoped to get the nominee's response to a letter they'd delivered earlier, calling for "immediately removing U.S. troops from Iraq, providing full health-care benefits to returning veterans and paying reparations to Iraqis for the damage done during the war."
As the protest approached the convention center with no response from inside where Pres. Bill Clinton was speaking, tensions ratcheted outside as the police threatened the marchers with pepper spray and arrest. Then two Obama staffers emerged, met with representatives of Iraq Veterans Against the War and apparently offered them a meeting with Obama's liaison for veterans' affairs. The crowd dispersed, seemingly content.
Earlier in the day, a Denver cop was reported to his superiors for violating departmental policy by having political bumper stickers on his police vehicle -- McCain stickers, by the way -- and for refusing to identify himself to a citizen who approached him about the stickers. And an ABC News producer was arrested while filming outside a hotel, "attempting to take pictures on a public sidewalk of Democratic senators and VIP donors leaving a private meeting", according to a statement released by the network. (They actually arrested him after telling him to stop blocking the sidewalk. Why can't cops do this to the goddamn tourists in Times Square?) And a UMass student was actually arrested for having feces in a bottle, which police say he was going to use as a weapon. The kid claims it was coffee with soy milk. I'm not sure which is worse.
Speaking of shit-slinging, inside the convention hall Dems further whipped themselves into a frenzy, most noticeably with speeches from Fmr. Pres. Bill Clinton, the official nomination of and acceptance by Sen. Joe Biden to run for VP -- and a "surprise" appearance by the O-man himself, who had just arrived in town. Biden's son Beau, Delaware's Attorney General and a Captain in the the state's Army National Guard who will soon return to Iraq, introduced his father in a pretty touching speech. Their family's story is such a compelling one -- the first Mrs. Biden and their baby daughter's being killed in a car crash; Joe's raising the two boys by himself until he and the boys -- as they say -- married the second Mrs. Biden, the Senator's commuting from D.C. to Delaware every day to work and be with them. The newest VP candidate gave an effectively rousing address to the convention (except for that hackneyed call-and-response business that they tried again).
And I have to say that the speeches from the two Bidens really won me over to the oldest and whitest guy the Party is putting forth this year. If you'll allow me to put down my professional cynicism for a moment, Biden certainly seems like a strong, upright, intelligent and experienced politician and dedicated family man -- just what the Dems want of him. They're peddling love and family and hope. I'm excited to see what the GOP pushes. I have trouble imagining they'll be the same things.
I'll file an update on today's immigrants' rights march in Denver -- which organizers are calling March Against Borders: No One is Illegal -- when I get the info. It's supposed to start at 10:30am MDT/12:30pm EDT. For more frequent and on-the-ground updates for that and all convention news check out the Colorado Indymedia Center and The Denver Post.
Technorati tags: politics, DNC, convention, protests,police, democrats, Biden, Obama.