Antiwar Activists Take to the Streets to “Defend Denver”
Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill heads to the streets of Denver to report on day one of protests outside of the Democratic National Convention. He speaks to antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, M1 of Dead Prez, Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice and others.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. Breaking with Convention, War, Peace and the Presidency. We’re broadcasting this week from Denver. We’ll be traveling from the streets to the suites to the convention floor. And while much of the attention will be focused on what’s happening inside the convention, we begin our coverage outside the heavily fortified gates of the Pepsi Center. Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill filed this report.
JEREMY SCAHILL: The city of Denver has been converted to a massive monument celebrating Barack Obama. This weekend, some 4,000 delegates to the Democratic National Convention began flooding the city for the much-anticipated coronation of the man chosen by the Democrats to face John McCain in November. Some 15,000 journalists are here, as well.
The convention could be described as one big political NASCAR race, with corporate logos splashed on practically everything related to the big show. The total cost of the convention could well top $100 million. It is on track to be the most expensive political convention in US history.
Some $50 million has been allocated by the federal government to the city for security, and Denver is now home to a massive twenty-four-hour fusion center, where law enforcement agencies, from the US Secret Service and the FBI to the state and local police, monitor events inside the convention and on the streets.
And it is in the streets of Denver where the uninvited guests will find themselves this week. While the big party is underway in the Pepsi Center, the site of the DNC, the party crashers will be outside the fortified sports arena.
While convention delegates checked into their hotel rooms across the city, unpacked their free corporate-sponsored goodie bags and plotted out which parties to attend, a few thousand demonstrators marched and held rallies downtown. Crowds were smaller than past convention protests, but the dedicated demonstrators gathered in the streets to protest the continued funding of the Iraq war, threats to escalate the war in Afghanistan, and railed against the substantial corporate influence in politics.
Among the crowd, there were many national figures in the streets, like Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004. She denounced the multimillion-dollar convention extravaganza.