DNC protest groups to sue city of Denver, police officers

Arrest of Code Pink supporter, Alicia Forrest, at the Democratic National Convention. (Photo/Jason Kosena)
Arrest of Code Pink supporter, Alicia Forrest, at the Democratic National Convention. (Photo/Jason Kosena)

Re-create 68 protesters and other activists plan to file suit against the city of Denver and the Denver police department for violating their constitutional rights during the Democratic National Convention (DNC).

At a press conference this morning, Re-create 68 co-founder Glenn Spagnuolo, three activists, and attorney David Lane, detailed their intent to sue the city and the police for illegally arresting and detaining peaceful protesters, brutalizing activists and illegally searching and seizing signs and other materials that belonged to protesters.

“The only people prepared for violence were the police,” said Spagnuolo, “The protesters were disciplined and did not respond to provocations.”

Lane said that the suit will focus on four instances in which police violated constitutional rights. One is the case of Carlo Garcia, a CU Boulder student who was thrown face down into the dirt during a protest. Garcia, who spoke at the press conference, said that he and other anti-war activists held signs in front of Rev. Fred Phelps, an anti-gay marcher who had launched a counter protest. The police asked Garcia to move, body slammed him to the ground, and held him in tight wrist cuffs for over an hour. Garcia was charged with interference. “Is this how our local government treats dissent?” he said.

Another instance is that of Alicia Forrest, a Code Pink activist who was allegedly brutalized by the police during a protest. The so-called Lady in Pink was shoved to the ground by an officer, who Lane says should be “criminally prosecuted.”

The third instance involves a protest on Monday night of the convention, in which several hundred people were corralled in downtown Denver for over an hour without apparent reason. A hundred of them were arrested while others were blasted with pepper spray. Keith Valentine, a CU Denver student, said at the press conference that he and others were “held as political detainees. There were no orders to disperse and no orders to leave.”

The fourth instance involves an activist “convergence center” in north Denver, where Recreate-68 organizers hosted meetings, stored puppets and painted posters. Police allegedly bulldozed an area behind the facility, where activists’ painted posters were drying. Alex Bryan, a protester, said he snapped a photo of police outside of the center, only to have the contents of his camera and cell phone deleted by one of the officers, who called him a “domestic terrorist.” Bryan says he was ticketed for “pedestrian use of sidewalk,” a charge that he doesn’t understand.

Lane, the attorney, said that the group will work to dismiss charges against protesters before formulating legal action, which could take the shape of a large class-action suit or a series of smaller suits.

“We will take them into federal and district court. We will seek damages. We will not tolerate this and we will go after officers,” he said.

DNC protesters who want to join the suit or who have information on police misconduct are invited to contact Re-create 68 at legal@recreate68.org.

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