Protesters didn’t camp out during the ’60s!

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper may be a successful businessman and politician, but his memory of large public protests in the 1960s is apparently hazy.

This week the Denver Post published a story about how activists planning to protest the Democratic National Convention in August want permission to camp in public parks.

In the article, Hickenlooper, who was barely of Army enlistment age when the 1960s ended, was quoted as follows:

Hickenlooper recalled the "the big protests in the 1960s."

"You would fill up the Washington Mall — fill it up!" he said. "No one camped out. No one stayed in the park. They all stayed with friends, or took buses back or did whatever they needed to do."

That statement, of course, is ridiculous. Activists in the 1960s (and yes, hippies) did camp out on public land for days at a time.

In 1967 for instance, a massive Washington, D.C., anti-war demonstration of approximately 70,000 participants organized by the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam featured protesters who stayed in parks and public land without being hassled even after a permit for the event had expired. That’s just one example.

Camping out by activists wasn’t just in the nation’s capitol either. Whether protesters would be permitted to camp in parks was one of the top conflicts at the Democratic convention in 1968, when police violently stormed Chicago’s Lincoln Park to expel protesters, as the event degenerated into chaos.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at