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Protesters March Through Denver Streets

On Sunday afternoon, a couple hundred protesters marched through downtown Denver clutching anti-war signs, playing drums and chanting slogans like "this is what Democracy looks like."

This was just one of the protests that took place over the weekend; those who descended on Denver to protest around the Democratic National Convention say they have a busy week planned. Monday, one organizer told me, was focused primarily on training for the week; by Tuesday, he said, protesters planned to stop random cars on the street and search them in an effort to recreate what happens to civilians in Iraq.

"Of course, in Iraq, they'll blow your head off too," he said. "We're not going to do that."

Most of the marchers Sunday said they had come to press the Democratic Party to get U.S. troops out of Iraq; asked what he wants from the Democrats this week, Kieth Gillogly, a young man holding a "Peace Is Patriotic" sign, said simply, "their ears."

Mike Oren, who marched shirtless at the front of the protest, two fingers held up in a peace sign, said he went by the name the Peacewalker.

"For the last four years I've been walking across America – I've logged over 4,000 miles – demonstrating against the war in Iraq," he said. Oren said his goal in Denver was to pressure Democrats "to bring a swift end to the war in Iraq by bringing the troops home."

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"We went to war and millions of people have died based on falsities," Val Stepien, who marched carrying a giant peace sign, said. "Democrats voted for FISA; Democrats keep voting to fund the war; and we want the leaders of the Democratic Party to take a stand for peace and justice, not just here but all around the world."

Some of the protesters suggested that their efforts to influence the politicians in the Pepsi Center were likely futile.

"I don't think any of the parties have my interests in perspective," said Jeffrey Wood, who had come to Denver from Oakland. "It's either one side of the business chain or the other. McDonald's or Starbucks, take your pick. That's just not my style."

"I've been watching our civil liberties and our civil rights be dissolved under the nose of the Democratic Party for a while now, and that's really frustrating," said another young protester, a white bandana around his neck. "It just goes to show, really, that they're all in on the same game, and it's just really a one party system."

The marchers Sunday did not interfere with others downtown, other than a brief period when they danced in front of a car trying to emerge from a parking garage; police were accommodating, stopping cars and guiding marchers through the streets, though some protesters were arrested Sunday morning.

"We walk out in the street and we are surrounded by police in riot gear, which is a huge intimidation to the citizens of our nation, of our state, of our city," said Reeves MacDonald, who had come to protest the war. "And it's unfortunate that the police don't really know how to handle protests, and conversely, citizens don't really know how to handle protests anymore."

At a grass field where the march ended – and where the largest gathering was for a lottery to win tickets to a Rage Against The Machine concert later in the week – Carl Davidson of Progressives For Obama stood behind a table, near an Amnesty International display and a "Duck Corporate America" dunk tank featuring a young man in a shirt and tie.

Davidson said he had come to Denver "not only to help Obama get elected but to put some heat on him once he is in the White House."

Asked how the reaction has been from the protesters who said neither party speaks to their needs, Davidson acknowledged, "there's a lot of truth in that." He said he was fine with protesters voting for the Green Party, or someone else, as long as they vote.

"No matter who's in the White House, we're going to have to keep on fighting, keep on pressing," he said.