Reports of bikes, maps will go to state intelligence nexus

The Denver Police Department has issued a bulletin asking law enforcement officials to be on the lookout for stockpiles of supplies that could be used by “violent demonstrators” during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) next week, but civil libertarians are criticizing the memo for containing a broad list of innocuous items including bicycles, helmets and maps. Reports of such items will also be recorded and held for an indefinite period of time by a state “fusion” center, a place meant to share reports of “suspicious activities” with local, federal and military officials.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Colorado announced in a statement yesterday that they will be holding a press conference at their 400 Corona St. offices in Denver today at 3 p.m. to discuss the bulletin, which was also provided to reporters with the organization’s press release.

In the memo, police warn of the dangers of bicycles, protest signs and maps:

Maps: Maps are frequently used by violent protester [sic] to plan direct actions against conventioneers.

Protest sign handles: Wood or metal
– Check the diameter of the wood or metal used to hold up light paper, cloth, or plastic signs
– Heavy wooden handles in 5 foot lengths are perfect for swing [sic] at first responders
– Metal post can also be used to hold improvised “tiki” torches to deliver flammable liquid on first responders

Bicycles: Bicycles are used to blockade sidewalks, streets and can be used to slow down responding emergency vehicles

Helmets: Football, baseball, or motorcycle helmets are all used by violent protesters.

At the bottom of the bulletin is a number to the Colorado Intelligence Analysis Center (CAIC), a state “fusion” center that will be operating 24 hours a day during the convention, fully staffed with up to eight intelligence analysts from both federal and state government agencies at any given time.

“Fusion” centers have been criticized by civil liberties advocates for what they see as invasive data mining and sharing between government agencies. Some of those problems were explored in a July story by The Colorado Independent.

For more on “fusion” centers, read The Colorado Independent’s continuing coverage:

Monster fusion center to coordinate DNC intelligence

Local, state agencies gain spying powers under Bush plan

Colorado ‘fusion center’ to step up intelligence gathering during DNC

Report: ‘Fusion centers’ called new domestic spying machine

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

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