I started my morning attempting to locate the area near the Pepsi Center in which the protesters are supposed to do their protesting. There's a "parade route" that follows Larimer Street down around the very outside perimeter of the Pepsi Center, blocked by high chain-link fencing. (See photos at right)
I think I found what's being termed the "Freedom Cage," but there wasn't anybody there. Instead of wasting more time, I headed back into town, found a friendly cop who informed me about the free bus that runs all the way down to the Civic Center Park, and availed myself of it.
Civic Center Park is where the action is happening, or at least beginning, but I'll talk about that in a separate article, as the number of pictures I'm putting up here is going to make this difficult for anyone to load.
My first impressions of this morning? That someone threw a convention and nobody showed up. Of course, it was early yet, but there was, supposedly, a march from a park on the other side of town that was to end at that "cage" and I didn't see anybody around. And that there were entirely too many policemen around, holding entirely too many weapons.
I don't know what I expected to find, but at the very least, I would have hoped to have seen some people milling around against whom the police force might have had reason to be carrying those weapons, those extra-long nightsticks, those tasers. Why they might be wearing helmets.
What I sensed was this incredible divide, the borders of which are lined with chain-link fencing, between the political forces of this nation of ours, and those whom they are purported to govern. And that divide is guarded by armed police men and women. There is a tremendous sense of fear--don't go there, don't do that, don't say that or you might get knocked in the head by that long nightstick--long enough so that person hitting you doesn't have to get that close to you to hurt you. There's a lot of confusion, blockades, and disruption. A lot of inconvenience.
I'm an unrepentant idealist (though I might need to start repenting). When faced with situations such as this, I'm most apt to wonder why things have to be this way, and I'm unable to wrap my head around the reasons I'm given, though intellectually I understand.
I wandered back up the parade route, intent to find the Civic Center, where I believed most of the protesting would be taking place, a little uncertain, a little sweaty, a little regretting the Burger King breakfast Calvin and I wolfed down in the car before we found a place to park.
While still on the parade route, I boldy marched up to a group of ten or so policemen and women, fully armored and armed, pointed southeast and asked, "Is this the general direction of the Civic Center park?"
Most of them ignored me, a couple shrugged, and one, a man, said, "Mmm, I think so. That sounds about right."
"You don't know?" I asked.
"We're Aurora police..." he began and then trailed off. I instantly had the thought--"You're carrying that many weapons and you don't even know the lay of the land? You're from this area and you don't know where most of the protests are staging?"
Without rising from her seat on a ledge, the one woman present, a young blonde, wearing a helmet and enough equipment to double her weight, said, quietly, "Yes. It's that way." And then she looked down at the ground again.
This is continued in Part 2, a link to which will be available here once I've published it.