With the Democratic National Convention on its way to Denver in just under two months, there’s a lot of water cooler-type talk about the event. Across party lines, many people seem to be worried about the protest movement called “Re-create 68,” a movement that’s seeking to emulate the protests at the 1968 DNC in Chicago, where clashes between protesters and police officers often turned violent. The organization’s website states that it “was created for all the grassroots people who are tired of being sold out by the Democratic Party,” and, as commenter and group member Glenn Spagnuolo points out, the organization is committed to nonviolence. They’re against the two-party system in general, and for now are showing it by participating in local festivals and fairs, planning rallies, and trying to attract more supporters of their cause. About the name of the organization, the website explains:
Sometimes we need to look back to move forward. In 1968 there existed a spirit of change, the Paris Rebellion, Prague, Chicago, Vietnam, etc. People believed, around the world, that they were capable of taking over the institutions that controlled their lives. The smell of revolution was in the air. Over 1 million college students openly identified as revolutionist. People believed that through mass participation in the movement, it was possible to wrest control from the elite power-holders. They were not willing to accept the loss of their human and civil rights.
They are trying to re-inspire a revolutionary attitude, which, based on what happened in 1968, understandably makes people a little nervous. Which is why, perhaps, the city is so far being so accommodating to another protest group, Tent State University. For now, the two protest groups are connected, but Denver City Councilwoman Carla Madison encouraged Tent State to break off from R-68 to make things a little easier on them. In a Rocky Mountain New article on the topic, Madison said that she views R-68 as a “little more anarchistic.” (Here’s the online version of the article, but please note that the online article and the hard copy of the article that I’m referencing are not exactly the same.)
Tent State describes itself as “a positive, youth-led initiative to fund education instead of war.” According to the RMN article, the group hopes to bring up to 50,000 people to Denver’s City Park (pictured below, and yes, I do realize how lucky I am) from August 24-28 and provide the experience of a “real democracy,” complete with protests and classes teaching nonviolent and anti-war tactics. So far, the city has issued Tent State a permit for 20,000 people, and this morning on the radio I heard a sound byte from Mayor John Hickenlooper in which he expressed support for the group, and expected them to be non-disruptive, partly because they are in support of Obama.
So far, the one major kink in the plans deals with the actual camping permit. Naturally, it’s a lot easier to provide a place for 20,000 people to hang out during the day than to provide a place for the same number of people to sleep, eat, and shower. But as Adam Jung, the chief Tent State organizer, points out, “If we have to figure out a way to remove all of these people at 10 or 11 at night, it becomes very problematic…that’s what happened in Chicago.”
Tent State and the city of Denver are still in discussion, but for now, I think all of this is great. It’s impressive that the city is being so willing to work with the organization, and it could set a standard for future successful nonviolent protests. I’ll be starting grad school in DC during the week of the convention, but I’ll be crossing my fingers and keeping an eye on the action along with everyone else. Good luck, Tent Sate.
[Posted by Mallory]