No Slime or Goo on Tap for DNC Protesters

The City and County of Denver and the ACLU have reached a partial agreement with respect to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Colorado seeking details of security purchases made by police for the Democratic National Convention. Denver has now provided details of the $18.2 million spent to date and those planning on protesting can rest a little easier:

The city also announced today that none of the equipment purchases include nonlethal weapons that discharge "slime" or "goo" to immobilize persons or vehicles or that use microwaves or sonic waves to induce pain or discomfort in targets.

The ACLU was relieved -- so much so that it agreed to wait until the convention is over to decide whether to return to court and seek more information.

Denver also disclosed that the police have no "mandatory arrest" policy -- meaning there is no list of offenses that will require arrest rather than the issuance of a citation.[More...]

As to details of the extra training police are receiving for the Convention, DPD insists the focus is not on nabbing protesters but on moving crowds safely through the streets:

"The emphasis is not on arresting people but on gaining voluntary compliance with requests that enable everyone to safely exercise their First Amendment rights."

A breakdown of the $18.2 million in security purchases is here (pdf.)

Hopefully this means there will be no Guantanamo of the Rockies similar to the Guantanamo on the Hudson that sprang up at Pier 57 in New York City when more than 1,700 protesters were arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention.

Nonetheless, I encourage the Denver Police Department and the officers on loan from outlying areas to to review the ACLU's report, Rights and Wrongs at the RNC, Police and Protest at the RNC (pdf). Among their recommendations:

  • Stop the indiscriminate use of mesh nets as an arrest tactic — Whatever the merit of using nets to restrict the movement of crowds or to stabilize a situation, it is inappropriate to surround crowds with nets and then arrest everyone. This sort of indiscriminate arrest tactic is assured of capturing large numbers of innocent people, as happened during the Convention.
  • Assure that clear warnings to disperse are given — During the Convention, the NYPD made mass arrests without giving clear warnings to disperse. Despite Department claims that dispersal orders first were given, extensive videotape and eyewitness testimony reveal that warnings either were not given or were inaudible to most members of the crowd. There is no reason why the Department cannot give clear, audible warnings to disperse if it genuinely intends to give people the opportunity to disperse.
  • Assure that the only people arrested are those who actually have been observed engaging in unlawful activity — When law enforcement officials seek to arrest large groups of people, it is essential that careful steps be taken to assure that the only people arrested are those who in fact are observed to have engaged in unlawful activity, as opposed to simply being in a public area near unlawful activity. That this is a problem is apparent from the large number of bystanders arrested during the Convention
    and evidence collected by the NYCLU that “arresting officers” during Convention mass arrests in fact
    did not observe any unlawful conduct by those they arrested.

A few more suggestions: Give citations for minor offenses like parading without a permit or disorderly conduct rather than make an arrest. If an arrest is deemed necessary, policies should be in place to ensure the person is brought before a judge or released on a summons within 24 hours.

Don't fingerprint those taken in on minor offenses. Other than creating a political database on protesters, it serves no legitimate purpose.

Have an appropriate site ready to hold arrestees. It should be clean with adequate seating and sanitation. Make sure the officers are attuned to medical needs of those arrested and respond appropriately and not with threats of longer detention. Have a written policy specifying the kinds of property of arrestees that may be held for evidence. Protesters' property should be treated the same as the property of those arrested for other offenses. If bicycles and cameras aren't held as evidence in other crimes, then they shouldn't be held for protest offenses. That would be discriminatory.

With the outcome of the Democratic nomination decided in advance, there will be a lot of reporters and bloggers, including videobloggers, looking for the off-beat story. That means covering the protesters. Any mishaps are sure to make the nightly news and blanket the blogosphere.

With a lot of advance planning and extra police training, which the DPD says it says it's been doing, and reviewing mistakes of other cities in the past, from Chicago in 1968 to New York in 2004, the Denver Police Department has the opportunity to shine. Let's hope they do so.

[to be cross-posted at 5280.com]

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  • Display: Sort:
    by the same token, (5.00 / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 02:38:30 AM EST
    let's hope those doing the protesting can do so in a manner which both gets their point across, and doesn't interfere with anyone else's rights. one can disagree, without having to be disagreeable in the process.

    this is the responsibility of those in charge of any organized activity, along with the police.

    oh my! (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by p lukasiak on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 07:22:15 AM EST
    yes, lets do encourage those nasty little protesters to be civil, Sir Howard!  

    Oh, I most certainly do agree, Lady Donna!  Peaceful civil disobedience is so recherche, don't you know.  


    well, sir putz, (none / 0) (#13)
    by cpinva on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 03:55:25 PM EST
    glad to know you agree! :)

    given that protesters are being caged (none / 0) (#7)
    by Valhalla on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 10:55:27 AM EST
    in so far from the convention that there's just barely a line of sight connection between them, it really doesn't seem like that will be a problem.

    Really, the extremes to be worried about here are not that the protesters will be rude or disruptive.


    The police are making ridiculous claims (none / 0) (#10)
    by dianem on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 12:36:59 PM EST
    They say that they've got information about a house where urine is being stored in order to fill water balloons to throw at police during the protests. This seems highly unlikely to me. In the first place, what would protesters have to gain by throwing urine at police officers? That could only provoke them into breaking up the protest, which might briefly get headlines - but for the behavior of the protester's, not for their cause. Second, why would anybody need to have a house to store urine? The protester groups could just as easily simply have their people fill baloons at home and save the trouble. The organizers of the protest say that the police are simply trying to paint them as radicals in order to discourage people from joining the protests. That seems more reasonable to me.

    The agenda (none / 0) (#11)
    by Ben Masel on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 01:03:47 PM EST
    is to get rank and file cops tweaky enough to bash heads on minimal provocation. Then "violent anarchists' can be blamed for the ensuing mayhem. Thew hope is that this will push Obama towards maintaining budgets for the repressive apparatus.

    I heard Hillary's supporters (none / 0) (#12)
    by misspeach2008 on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 01:11:23 PM EST
    were planning to stage a "bitter knitter" protest. Is there going to be a ban on bringing knitting needles and crotchet hooks into the cage?

    Knit your own purse grenade:


    k = knit, p = purl, st(s) = stitch(es), inc = increase, dec = decrease, rep = repeat, slp = slip onto needle without knitting, tog = together, nxt = next, yrn = yarn, fwd = forward, cont = continue, pat = pattern, ss = stocking stitch: one row k, one row p


    Should be knitted in chunky army green and gunmetal grey on 4mm needles. Grenade is fastened with a kilt pin and keyring.

    The complete directions are at the link.

    AQny update on locations? (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Ben Masel on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 06:57:09 AM EST
    Where can I display my 42 foot "STOP GOVERNMENT SPYING" banner?

    Canned Heat: "My Crime" (none / 0) (#2)
    by Ben Masel on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 06:55:27 AM EST

    "The police in Denver..."

    The Democrats (none / 0) (#5)
    by tek on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 07:39:18 AM EST
    have done such a great job with their nomination process this year.  Deja Vu 1968.

    McCain was endorsed by the Illinois Veterans Association today.

    Well, we'll see...in the future, there may be no (none / 0) (#6)
    by SunnyLC on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 09:52:18 AM EST

    The future of political manipulation??

    Welcome to "Brainwave Analysis"-Where Brainwaves are "Taken, Analyzed, Cleaned-up, Processed" and the Metrics are "Extracted" (Coming to a Future Political Campaign Near You?)




    This is the scariest thing I've learned about in a long time. As a former market researcher, I find it absolutely mind-blowing (literally)....

    That is some scary sh*t.... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 12:00:53 PM EST
    right there, you ain't kidding.

    "Officer, I didn't do anything"

    "But you thought about it, you're coming with me."


    Will the protesters be close enough (none / 0) (#9)
    by blogtopus on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 12:35:36 PM EST
    to see the pigs* walking upright into the convention hall?

    *referring to Animal Farm, not 1968 nomenclature. Isn't it wonderful that our fine US political system is taking such great pains to bring the literary classics back into vogue?