Activists not arrested for trying to get into the State Democratic Convention

The mugshot photographer forbid me making a toothy smileTO CORRECT POLICE BLOTTER DISINFO
(A friend asked me casually “how far did you get?” I was disappointed to admit that Peter and I were not arrested trying to get into the convention.)
The police team coordinating security at the Colorado Democratic State Convention used confusion and unreasonable exertion of authority to curtail public participation. Officers broke protest signs over their knees and used arrest, detention and relocation to keep dissenting voices from the public eye until the opportunity to demonstrate had passed.

The two protesters arrested on May 17 had posed no security threat. Neither were their voices disruptive of the convention goers. Their banner which read “Democrats please stop funding the war” elicited support from the attendees. Many delegates began booing the police actions as the two men were being arrested for questioning police directives which seemed to contradict previously negotiated access.

As the convention check-in began at 7AM, the two men entered the “Free Speech Zone,” walked to the edge of the police tape and unfurled their banner. The two were immediately informed by police officers that where they were standing was reserved for “boosters” only and that they must move back a considerable distance. A supervisor was called to the scene who simply commanded the activists to move. After declining to explain himself, he grabbed one activist by the wrist while SWAT officers subdued the other, grabbing his banner and peace flag and breaking the bamboo poles before throwing them to the ground.

Eric Verlo and Peter Sprunger-Froese were handcuffed and driven to an El Paso County sheriff’s station across the street, charged with trespassing, photographed, fingerprinted, and after a delay, driven 15 miles to a distant city police substation before being released in the parking lot and given back their phone. By the time the two were able to get a ride back to the convention grounds, it was after 10AM and all the delegates had entered the convention.

Perhaps you knew this already but you are forbidden to smile by the police photographer. In application this just means you can’t show your teeth. I couldn’t help but think of Tom Delay’s beaming mugshot head-shot, but I pursed my lips because I did not intend to let the CSPD portray me as a forlorn felon. When I learned that the mugshot had been published online by Denver’s 9NEWS, I asked a friend about the attitude I’d projected. in his words: “demented.”)

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