Military to commandeer campus for DNC operations

The Colorado Army National Guard is expected to transform a private Denver university campus into a restricted military lodging area during the Democratic National Convention in August.


More than 400 soldiers could be stationed in official capacity on the campus according to the National Guard,  but the Guard is not disclosing what the troops will be doing during the convention.


In mid-July The Colorado Independent reported that the Colorado National Guard was planning to rent more than 500 rooms around the Denver area for business relating specifically to the Democratic National Convention being held Aug 25-38.

Johnson & Wales University student

housing, like the Presidents Dorm,

will house Colorado Army National

Guard troops during the Democratic

convention. (Photo/JWU)

At least 400 of those rooms will be used for nine days during Aug. 22-30 at Johnson & Wales University, the old University of Denver law school at 7150 Montview Blvd. in east Denver.


“We only have the Colorado Army National Guard staying with us.” says Lindsay Tracy, a spokeswoman for Johnson & Wales University.  


The private university, offering culinary and hospitality programs, will be closed to students during the soldiers’ stay.


“They’re the only ones using the campus. The campus basically will be shut down during that time,” Tracy says. “Only essential staff will be allowed.”


Along with lodging at the school, the National Guard has also ordered more than 30 rooms at an Extended Stay America hotel in an unknown location and more than 70 rooms at the Drury Hotels, also located in east Denver, at 4400 Peoria St.


A Drury Hotels representative declined to comment, citing a policy to not release information about guests.


The Colorado National Guard — composed of both Air and Army Guard units totaling over 5,000 military personnel — will not say why or how soldiers will be using the facilities, but officials have confirmed that no other federal or local agencies will be using the rooms.


“All we’re concerned with is the National Guard personnel,” says Capt. Robert Bell, a public affairs officer for the Colorado National guard. “That’s what we asked for.”

    

Bell says the soldiers will be on duty and wearing personal protective equipment, which can include helmets and combat armor. He also said weapons will be kept in National Guard armories, in the city of Centennial south of Denver, and at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. Both Johnson & Wales University and Drury Hotels are less than 10 miles from the base.


Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, who was appointed by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter as the adjutant general for Colorado in 2007, oversees both Army and Air National Guard operations in the state.


Bell and Tracy said they do not know how much taxpayer money will be spent on the room rentals.

 

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About the Author

Erin Rosa

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@coloradoindependent.com.

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