Protesters Commandeer DNC-Friendly Web Sites

Terming it a “lack of foresight” on the part of the Democrats, a group of Colorado activists have snagged a half-dozen 2008 Democratic National Convention related Web domain names  – and secured another bundle of sites designed to help protesters organize long before descending en masse on the Mile High City.

Anyone who clicks on DenverDNC.org, or 2008DenverDNC.org, or multiple other related web sites will automatically be rerouted to Recreate68.org, a “Virtual Activists’ Convergence Center” designed for “people who are tired of being sold out by the Democratic Party.”

The group, calling itself Recreate-68 Alliance, shelled out $126 for the domain sites six months ago, anticipating that Denver would be selected for the ’08 convention, said organizer Glenn Spagnuolo. (See the box on the jump for a complete list of the 15 Web sites.)

“The gamble paid off,” Spagnuolo said. “We didn’t know what they were going to use, so we grabbed as many variations as possible [given the cost restraints].”


From left, activists Mark and Barbara Cohen, Glenn
and Barbara Spagnuolo, at this year’s annual Columbus
Day protest in Denver. Reprinted with permission.
Democratic National Convention officials were not immediately available for comment. The official site of the Democratic National Convention is denverconvention2008.com

The Recreate ’68 Web site lists numerous protest-related resources, including a Q&A sheet for engaging in civil disobedience, and a recipe and directions for wheatpasting political fliers to poles. The site will also be used to help streamline protest events and list hotel and shared housing possibilities closer to the convention date, said Spagnuolo.

“Obviously the name of the site has a message in of itself,” said Spagnuolo, a well-known Colorado activist who is a key organizer of Denver’s annual protest of Columbus Day “We see a lot of parallels of what will happen in ’08 to what happened in ’68. Forty years have passed and we still don’t have the government we need. To demonize the Republicans, and say ‘it’s all the Republicans’ fault and hold up the Democrats as the salvation to the Republicans is foolish. The Republicans couldn’t have accomplished what they did without the assistance of the Democrats.”

About a dozen core organizers have been meeting for about six months in anticipation of Denver being the likely site of the convention, including a fairly “extensive” amount of outreach to African-American, Latino, Native American, anti-war, labor and civil rights activists, said Spagnuolo.

Others who have been involved in the efforts include longtime peace activists Barbara and Mark Cohen, who were plaintiffs in Denver’s famous Spy Files lawsuit after police targeted them as “criminal extremists,” and Larry Hales, who has helped organize local CopWatch efforts. In addition to protesting at the convention, organizers are also envisioning a four-day “counter convention” for youth. The group plans to have its first public meeting in March, to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war.

Asked whether the Recreate ’68 will bring a repeat of the rioting and violence that gripped Chicago during the ’68 convention, Spagnuolo said: “That will be up to the Denver Police Department. Any violence would be at the hands of the Denver Police Department.”

And actually, such national conventions now fall under the U.S. Secret Service, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, as the lead agency coordinating National Special Security Events. Spagnuolo says the group plans to meet with police agencies, but will object to any efforts to install protest zones, or protest pens, that have used to segregate protesters from convention-goers.

Both national political conventions in 2004, in Boston and New York City, included a massive police presence, with concrete barriers, barbed wire fencing and what one Boston judge described as “a brutish and potentially unsafe place for citizens who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights.” Spagnuolo was among an estimated 600,000 protesters at the Republican National Convention that year.

“I don’t think the message will come down to crack skulls,” he said of Denver’s ’08 convention. “We’ll try our hardest to negotiate, but we won’t be having protest zones – you can’t cage democracy.”

Spagnuolo places early estimates at the number of protesters who could be at the ’08 convention at 100,000.

“How many more Vietnams, Nicaraguas, El Salvadores, Haitis, Somalias, Afghanistans, Iraqs, Guatemalas and Chiles do we need before we realize that imperialism keeps marching on?” he asked. “You always say vote for the lesser of two evils; we don’t want to vote for the evil anymore.”

The list of the sites that the Recreate-68 Alliance reserved, all of which are redirected to Recreate68.org:

DenverDNC.org
2008DenverDNC.org
Denver2008DNC.org
Denver2008DNC.com
2008DNCDenver.org
2008Denverconvention.com
NoDNC.org
ChangetheDNC.org
ChangetheDNC.com
Stopthe2008DNC.com
Stopthe2008DNC.org
NoDNC2008.org
NoDNC2008.com
Recreate68.com
Recreate68.org

Cara DeGette is a longtime editor and columnist at the Colorado Springs Independent.

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