Serious divisions have emerged in the left-wing protest community gathered here in Denver for the Democratic National Convention. As reported earlier, Recreate ’68 (R68) held its signature rally early Sunday morning. The wistful, geriatric-led event was as edgy and authentic as Woodstock ’99. The only thing missing was corporate sponsorship.
But now some real protesters have arrived. Last night Unconventional Denver—“a network of anarchists and anti-authoritarians”— organized and executed their first major event of the week. Young and idealistic, Unconventional Denver seeks radical change and views R68 as mired in the past and part of the protest community establishment. By all accounts, the Unconventional Denver rally was a success. Police officers in riot gear used pepper spray to subdue rock-carrying protesters, 100 of whom were arrested. Unlike Sunday morning, there were no Kum-Ba-Yah moments or bell-bottoms. It’s probably a good thing Griff Jenkins wasn’t there.
I spoke with one Unconventional Denver protester this morning in a coffee shop as he watched network news footage of last night’s altercation on his Mac. The teenager happily explained how he was “bashed to shit” by the police. Fortunately, he appeared to have made a full recovery. The young anarchist also recounted seeing police officers fire rubber bullets into protesters’ faces at point blank range. Thus far, I’ve been unable to confirm the veracity of this report. He also scoffed when I asked whether he was affiliated with R68: “No way, man. [Last night’s event] was an anarchist thing.”
It’s unclear whether the Unconventional Denver forces will be able to mend fences with the R68 camp and unify the left-wing protest community in the last three days of the convention. Operatives from both camps are working on a compromise that can appeal to both R68’s older, predominantly white protesters and Unconventional Denver’s younger multicultural protesters. Well aware that right-wring protest organizations are typically better organized and funded, insiders feel that a united left-wing is critical if effective protests are to be held throughout the fall campaign.
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CNN and Fox News have each rented and taken over popular Denver restaurants close to the Pepsi Center for the week. Incidentally, I also found evidence that CNN, in what may be another attempt to adapt to the ever changing media environment, has revamped its business model and branched out into the food business. Is it too much to hope that Lou Dobbs gets transferred to this new division?
I visited the Fox setup at Braun’s Bar and Grill a few days ago. The main stage has been constructed outside on risers to broadcast Fox’s heavy hitters like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity with a Pepsi Center backdrop. Inside, the main floor has been transformed from a swanky bar into two studio sets. Several large flat screen TVs—reportedly costing $70,000 each (apparently, they come equipped with the latest in technological advances)—ensure that no Fox employee has to endure a moment without a high definition transmitted image of the arguments taking place on the set several feet away.
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SUBSTANTIATED RUMOR: Invesco Field—the Denver Bronco’s 75,000 seat stadium—will be remade with four stages for the convention’s Thursday night grand finale. One stage is reserved for Obama’s acceptance speech, a second will be used by all the other speakers on the agenda, and two are for musical acts.
UNSUBSTANTIATED RUMOR: Bruce Springsteen is one of those musical acts. While there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of credible evidence to support the Boss’ surprise appearance, it makes sense. For starters, Springsteen is currently on tour with the E Street Band and just played nearby Kansas City on Sunday. His next scheduled appearance isn’t until Saturday in Milwaukee. Second, Obama and Springsteen are smitten with each other. The Boss endorsed Obama back in April and the Illinois Senator frequently exits campaign rallies with the “The Rising” blaring in the background. Finally, it would be great politically. Springsteen is steeped in Americana and is especially associated with and loved by the white working class, a demographic that tended to back Hillary Clinton in the primaries and that pundits suggest Obama still needs to win over.