Protest planned against DNC lockup

(Photo/bitzcelt, Flickr)
(Photo/bitzcelt, Flickr)

Activists with the Recreate 68 coalition are planning a rally today against a newly discovered detention center for mass arrests during the Democratic National Convention Aug. 25-28.

Demonstrators will be gathering at 3833 Steele St., Denver, one of the many addresses given to a city-owned warehouse that used to be the headquarters of the now-defunct Denver Election Commission. A blog called George in Denver correctly identified the exact location on Wednesday. The city of Denver has since confirmed the fact.

The jail — which includes cages, barbed wire and signs warning of stun-gun use — was discovered by CBS4News earlier this week.

Recreate 68 is planning to show up to protest the jail at 3 p.m. today, describing the lockup as creating “a mini-occupation of Iraq on the streets of Denver during the DNC week,” according to a statement.

About the warehouse:

Satellite image of the DNC detention facility. (Illustration/City and County of Denver)
Satellite image of the DNC detention facility. (Illustration/City and County of Denver)

The building was erected in the 1940s, according to Denver property records, but in 2006, when it was being used by the election commission, a number of problems were found in a city audit, including:

• Lack of proper temperature control.

• Brick-and-woodstructure with an open floor plan.

• Access from an underground tunnel not properly secured.

• Security system not visually monitored from an outside location.

• Lack of proper electrical connections.

• Warehouse exterior lighting not functioning.

• Warehouse not in compliance with [Americans with Disabilities Act] requirements.

Voting machines were previously stored at the facility that will be used for
Voting machines were previously stored at the facility that will be used for

At one point the temperatures in the building got so high as to put election equipment at risk, according to the audit:

The warehouse has no permanent cooling system and only one of four heaters works properly. Consequently, the temperature inside the warehouse fluctuates with the temperature outside resulting in the warehouse becoming extremely warm during the summer and cold during the winter.

In response, Sue Cobb with the mayor’s office has said that indoor cooling will be on when those arrested are taken to the facility. “If it was to have been used as storage for that equipment, the air conditioner might not have been on,” Cobb said.

History of property:

An illustration of the block surrounding the detention facility. NDI is a privately-held company and as is Inner-City Development Corporation (ICDC). (Illustration/City and County of Denver)
An illustration of the block surrounding the detention facility. NDI is a privately-held company and as is Inner-City Development Corporation (ICDC). (Illustration/City and County of Denver)

Here is a history of the building, according to city documents:

1942-1946 – Site built as U.S. army medical depot.

1951 – Property is transferred to U.S. Air Force and used as accounting and finance center.

1977 – [Federal General Services Administration] conveys the 38th and York property to City and Denver Public School System.

1991 – City returns the site back to the Federal Government.

November 2006 – The City takes over the property management.

March 2007 – [Denver Office of Economic Development] engages in sale negotiations with Inner City Health Center for front half of the site, and with Colorado & Santa Fe Real Estate Company for the back half.

June 2007 – Colorado & Santa Fe Real Estate backs out of the deal. Negotiations continue.

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 erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.

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