politics

DNC: It’s a Riot

Steven Robert Allen

Former Alibi editor Steven Robert Allen is in Denver at the DNC this week working The Big Tent, a place where bloggers meet. He e-mailed these crazy photos and then called to tell me what they were about. Here’s the story of how he found himself trapped in a hotel lobby with New York Congressman Charlie Rangel yesterday. In classic Steve style, he started with:

“Here’s my story, right?”

Allen finished off his shift and was walking down 16th Street. There were police everywhere, hundreds, most of whom were in full riot gear. Anarchist kids were roaming around with bandanas over their faces, and for the most part, everything was peaceful. “There were regular people walking around, too,” Allen says. “No one seemed to care.”

Steven Robert Allen

He stopped at the Sheraton to take a leak. Sitting in the lobby with his entourage was Rep. Rangel. Allen finished his business and went to walk out the door. “They wouldn’t let me leave,” he says. Other people walked up and asked to leave, too, but security told them they’d locked down the hotel. “They said there were protesters out there and it was for our own safety.”

Lines and lines of police in full riot gear made their way down the street, marching through the intersection. Occasionally, the Sheraton let someone into the lobby. A woman entered saying the police were outnumbering protesters, tear-gassing them and beating them with batons.

Denver media covered the tear-gassing, Allen says, but not the batons.

The people in the lobby were freaked out by what the woman was saying and suggested she tell Rangel about it. “She did. He didn’t seem to care too much. He was just waiting to leave like the rest of us.”

Finally, they let the people out of the lobby. “You could smell the tear gas. Older people were choking on it.” Tons of riot police were moving in formation toward the group of people exiting the hotel. The police were chanting, “Move, move, move,” Allen says.

In front of their lines, an anarchist kid in a red bandana danced, paced and used his cell phone as the riot police made their way up the street. Those are the pictures Allen took.

The woman who entered the Sheraton and told tale of batons and tear gas estimated there were 30 protesters. Allen says he later heard a legal monitor from the National Lawyers Guild putting the number closer to 200. Both agree the protesters were vastly outnumbered by the police.