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All Quiet On The Protestor's Front

This story was written by Brittany Sovine, Campus Press
The anticipation was high and expectations were great. But Monday's scheduled protests surrounding the Democratic National Convention proved to be light. The turnouts were small, and the crowd largely dispersed throughout Civic Center Park in Downtown Denver.

Dressed in blue, armed in riot gear and mounted on horseback, police forces from all over the state of Colorado waited for signs of trouble, but all was calm at the park.

The groups of protestors who did show up came for a common cause: to be heard. Participants voiced their concerns through poetry slams, free live concerts, free food and minor health treatment.

Organizations like Recreate68, SAFER, Tent State University and DNC Disruption all sported websites calling for action.

Food Not Bombs, a worldwide movement that serves vegetarian food in over 1,000 cities provided free food to the protestors.

"We're trying to encourage people to be more for peace and social justice," said Keith McHenry, who sat comfortably in the grass giving out literature for the organization.

They protested democracy, peace, the War in Iraq and relations with Iran, but the most popular thorn in their sides were the police that surrounded the area.

"[Denver] got $50 million in funding for a five day DNC. They are ready for a war; they have gas canisters," said Rebel Diaz, a hip-hop group from Chicago and New York who plan to perform at the Civic Center Park Tuesday night.

The protestors came from all over the United States: Chicago, Detroit, Oklahoma, California and some who called Colorado home.

"We came to supply imagery for people to use while they protest," said Bobby Nicholson from Oakland, California. Nicholson was printing posters on site at the Civic Center Park on Monday afternoon.

Some came out of curiosity and to see what the protests scheduled had to offer.

"I want to see what's going on in my city. I want to know what makes people hyped about their life and what they want to change in their lives. I kind of stand back and take my own perspective one things but I like to assess a situation before I got into it," said Denver resident John Holland.

In contrast to the calm atmosphere of Civic Center Park, all was not quiet in the DNC designated protesting area. Called the "Freedom Cage" by several protesting groups like Recreate 68 and Tent State University, the only the voices of Code Pink could be heard within the area.

Code Pink is a women-initiated peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars and redirect resources into life-affirming activities, according to a pamphlet handed out by Jen Stevens, Code Pink's press coordinator.

"We want to shift society and morals away from war and towards health care and being green. We want to bring fun and vibrancy into democracy," said Keiko Schnelle, a peace activist of Code Pink from San Francisco.

The lengthy walk into the designated protest area around the DNC didn't stop some 30 women decked in pink from singing songs calling for peace.

Things turned interesting when the group moved to the barricades and clung to the fences. "Get off the fence! We're not asking you again!" police said. However, despite their warnings the women for democracy continued their songs.

Perhaps it was the ninety-three degree heat beating down on Denver Monday morning, or maybe the action will take place later this week. Whatever the reasons might have been, Denver stayed mostly non-violent and protestors behaved themselves.