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August 25, 2008

Dem. Convention: Recreate 68?

Dnc_003 Ed. note: Seven Days writer Kevin J. Kelley will be blogging this week from the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Recreate 68 — that's what the protest coalition here at the Denver Dem convention calls itself. It's a reference to that nasty 1968 bustup in Chicago, which I attended in a non-journalist and certainly non-blogger capacity.

From Chicago to Denver (via Burlington) is, historically, quite a trip. Then, proponents of big changes in US society were being gassed and clubbed in the streets. Now, they're nominating a bi-racial progressive for president.

No, Denver 08 cannot, will not, must not recreate Chicago 68. Not that there isn't a need for street protests to keep the Dem leadership focused on the ideals espoused in the party's platform, including ending an unnecessary, calamitous, hugely unpopular war.

Hmmm...maybe there are some similarities between the two Dem conventions.

About 1000 activists did hold an antiwar, anti-torture and not necessarily pro-Obama march on a super sunny Sunday through this mellow Mile High city (see photo of women in bandanas). The destination was the isolated Pepsi Center, about half a mile from downtown. The convention site is ringed by rows of black metal fences and guarded by squads of police in riot gear — all watched over by circling copper copters.

The march passed off peacefully, as such events almost always do these days. More demos are planned for each day of the convention, and I'll tell you about them in future posts. The action outside the convention will likely be at least as interesting as the speechifying inside.

There is a vibe of excitement here, though. The delegates, reporters, protesters and locals all seem to see this convention as authentically historic and, most hope, a harbinger of the sort of fundamental change that got beaten bloody in Chicago 40 years ago.

Lots of young people are in attendance. A passel of enthusiastic members of Junior Statesmen of America are staying in the hotel where I'm sleeping in Boulder, having been bumped by Travelocity from  downtown Denver lodgings. The teens are over the moon for Obama. "He's historic," says Sam Griffith, 17, of Ocean City, NJ. "I can't wait for it (the convention) to start. I begged my parents to let me come."

OK — now it's off for breakfast with the VT delegation. More later.

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