Modern ‘Yippies’ hungry for DNC spotlight

It seemed more like an exercise in leftist exhibitionism than an earnest attempt to make political change, but that didn’t stop a small group of activists from gathering in Denver on Sunday afternoon to beat each other with inflatable “peace” bats.

Meet Colorado’s own small contingent of “Yippies,” the supposed followers of the Youth International Party, a radical new left group that was originally championed by activists Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin in the 1960s to organize young people against tumultuous issues like the Vietnam War.

(Photo/Erin Rosa)The self-proclaimed successors to the late Hoffman and Rubin, officially calling themselves Yippies Colorado, took the spotlight on Sunday to bash each other with inflatable “peace” baseball bats decorated in American flag decals outside of the Pepsi Center, the site of the Democratic National Convention in August.

Such street theater was meant to publicize to media members a kinder and gentler weapon that could be used by both protesters and cops during the convention, an obvious jest to mock more dangerous artillery that could be used by law enforcement during the event.

But shortly after the Yippies started wailing on each other with the bats, the spectacle of grown adults beating themselves in a mosh pit melee of red, white and blue also attracted the attention of Denver cops, who came over to make sure nothing went awry.

When looking back on the history of previous old-school Yippie actions — like, say, the 1967 media spectacle where hundreds of dollar bills were thrown from the visitors’ balcony of the New York Stock Exchange to the trade floor below — the image of local artists and rabble-rousers socking one another with inflatable toys that can be found at Rockies games tends to present a bastardization of the biting political antics that were an integral part of Yippie activism in the 1960s.

It’s also important to note that the convention in Denver is being held almost exactly 40 years after the riotous 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, where Yippies and other activists were brutally beaten and jailed by police. Inflatable bats may be more fun, but they won’t prevent bruises or incarceration.

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