Statement regarding The City of Colorado Springs responsibility for its police attack on the St Patrick’s Day peace marchers

Statement regarding The City of Colorado Springs’ responsibility for its police attack on the Saint Patrick’s Day peace marchers
 
As has now been widely reported, the citizens that decided to march in the peace section of the city’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade were violently dispersed by city police officers. Many of us received no notice at all to disperse, let alone a reason for why the already paid permit for was being declared invalid. What process or procedure was there in place for revoking this permit, other than the police telling us to get off the city street in an abrupt manner?
 
Our only ‘notice’ for most of us, was actually to turn and see some of our friends and companions being manhandled by police officers, wrestled brutally to the ground, and threatened with tasers and choke and pressure holds. Most of the officers involved gave no verbal identification of themselves, and it was hard to see any name tags in this abrupt melee instigated by city police officers.

The City of Colorado Springs police acted in reckless disregard to our rights, our health, and appeared to relish the opportunity to stick peaceful people in a heavily tax subsidized city event, with criminal charges, instead of engaging in trying to resolve an issue in a way where nobody would be hurt.

What was especially egrarious to us, was the fact that officers in their 20s and 30s were assaulting people principally in their 60s and 70s, in front of children, some below the age of 10. Why was this done? What real and solid rules had been supposedly broken by us? Why the millisecond notice and in this rough a manner?

Afterwards, some of us made efforts to look for the rules we had been charged in the media with breaking. We looked for literature and we looked for web sites that might fill us in with info and guidelines for participation about this event? What we found was nothing. We wondered how was it that in such an unclearly organized event, with an unclearly identified organizer, the police moved in on us like a hurricane?

What we discovered is unsettling. The press afterwards repeatedly declared that police were asked to remove us by ‘event organizers’. Such was the story that city police spokepersons gave. So the search began to find and identify the ‘event organizers’, and to try to find their relationship to the city itself. What we came up with, was that a rather shadowy company called O’Donnell and O’Donnell, Inc had declared themselves the private party involved. They were in charge of issuing the permits. So we wondered, just what were the costs involved, and did the city itself pay much of the cost of Saint Patrick’s Day? And we also wanted to find out what other events were organized by this company?

What we found, is that the organizers, that call themselves a private company, were not really the priciple oraganizers of events they are involved with in this city at all. In fact, other events supposedly ‘organized’ by O’Donnell and O’Donnell, Inc were actually mainly organized by the US military, plus local Colorado Spring’s city officials in many different municipal departments, using both federal and local tax monies.

In short, that O’Donnell and O’Donnell’s principle role other than passing out permits, is mainly to pose as private organizers of what are really heavily publicly subsidized events in our area, promoted mainly by government agencies, and having largely a pro-militarism message. In short, O’Donnell and O’Donnell, Inc. is nothing much more than a small outsourcing of city and federal organizing projects, events oftentime more paid for by the tax monies contributed by all the citizens of the community than by the few few dollars picked up these hidden individuals posing as private organizers.

For an example of how this operates, ‘The Welcome Home Parade’ ‘organized’ by O’Donnell and O’Donnell, Inc. in 2004, was actually paid for almost entirely by city and federal government moneys, and in fact, like the Saint Patrick’s Day parade itself, was heavily slanted to being pro war/ pro uniform/ pro we support the troops (read war) message. As to taking no ‘social stands’ in public parades , the O’Donnell and O’Donnell, Inc ‘private’ ghost front for the city actually does take political stands, and that has been consistently pro war, pro militarism, pro military industrial complex.

To give another analogy, O’Donnell and O’Donnell, Inc operates with the public citizens of Colorado Springs, much in the way that Halliburton and other Pentagon fed private contract operators do in US occupied Iraq. Just as Halliburton is nothing more than an extension of US government operations in that country, O’Donnell and O’Donnell, Inc. is little more than an outsourced extension of the government of the City of Colorado Springs. In fact, the City of Colorado Springs was more the public provider of where to go for permits, than O’Donnell and O’Donnell, Inc was themselves. Part of the city building of this celebration, was merely privately outsourced to O’Donnell- O’Donnell, Inc., that’s all.

In short, we reject the legal fiction that the police were responding to a private call to eject ‘gate crashers’ at a private event when they attacked us. We have a right to these public streets, too, especially when an event is in actuality more a municipal government operation than not. And the Saint Patrick’s Day parade is just that.

We demand that the city fully disclose municipal costs for this public event, and disclose publicly how much of the entire bill was paid by the city, and how much was paid for this shadow operation calling itself, O’Donnell and O’Donnell, Inc? Further, we believe that the city has a duty to fully publicize the regulations for participating in an event subsidized by tax dollars.

If guidelines are hidden from easy view, then how can the police ask citizens to abide by rules that have not actually been seen? It is not enough to just have permit purchasers to see, one time in small print, what others cannot ever see for themselves. We are not our brothers keeper, and if a guideline is only shown to one person out of say a hundred, this is not full disclosure of the regulations. Instead of hiding in the shadows, the municipal government of the City of Colorado Springs has a duty to admit its fundamental role in the organization of this annual parade. This they are not yet doing.

We ask that all charges against particpants in this event be dropped, and that the city government fully disclose its financial involvement with O’Donnell and O’Donnell, Inc. Who pays for the policing of this event, the legal procedures against any of those charged with crimes due to this event, the publicity, the office space to issue permits, the costs of interrupting the normal routine of the downtown area, etc.? Certainly it is not the price of the permits paid by participants that does so alone. In fact, in large part, it is the municipal government itself that does, and that’s what makes this more a public sponsored parade than a private one.

Contrary to what some of the media have charged, those pro peace people in our city would no more crash a private event than the overwhelming majority of other Colorado Springs citizens would do. But the Saint Patricks Day parade is hardly much of that, and politicians tooting their own horns, mini-military squadrons of little kids draped out in olive green military fatigues, corporations advertising their commercial products, and all the other manifestations of people making a multitude of ‘social statements’, only underlines the reality of our argument.

This is in fact a public event in large manner publicly funded, and the city police should not try to hide their abusive actions against some participants behind the skirts of a pretense that they were mereley urgently mobilized by a private sponsor that the city government really had mainly outsourced the giving out of participant permission slips to.

Further, we would ask that the individual owner of the shadow company O’Donnel and O’Donnell, Inc., come forth, and together with us and the city government make some small effort to keep this conforntation from becoming a permanently embedded confrontation within our community. What could well have been a small problem solved via a short discussion with the parties involved, now risks becoming yet another permanent festering sore inside our diverse city. There is still time to stop this from happening if there would be the will to do so. The police should drop the 7 charges filed against the pro peace participants, and let us all move on with our lives without further bitterness. We are all deeply divided in how we feel about this war, and we don’t need to add further to that if we can avoid doing so.

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