From Beijing to Denver: guarding the Party

If the Chinese government provided a masterclass in how to prevent unwelcome protests at the Beijing Olympics, it looks like the Denver authorities may have been paying attention in time for this week's Democratic Party National Convention, gathered in the city for the formal adoption of Barack Obama as the presidential candidate.

In Beijing, there were parks designated as protest zones - it's just that one sought in vain for approval to use them. In Denver, protests (lots of them) are being allowed, but directed towards special "free speech zones", aka "protest cages", well fenced in, heavily policed and at a distance from the Pepsi Center where the convention is being staged so that only the most adventurous of delegates would even be aware of any protests.

In this, fortieth anniversary of the "police riot" at the 1968 Chicago DNC, it is clear that the Denver PD is taking no chances, hovering over the city in helicopters and patrolling the streets on horseback and in specially-adapted SUVs carrying officers on platforms attached to the sides of the vehicles. 

As for the "free speech zones"? It looks like most demonstrators are sensibly avoiding them and making their presence felt downtown instead, where a few have been arrested and pepper-sprayed.

They've left their comments instead on the official sign-up sheets for speakers: one wag registered for the 11:30am microphone slot as "MLK: 'I have a dream, that one day, all free speech will be done in cages!'"

Pic above courtesy of a terrific New York Times slideshow, Guarding the Party.

UPDATE: AP reports that Denver police have now arrested 100 people following the break-up of a protest in the city. Watch a video report from the American News Project.">American News Project.

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