This is what Democracy looks like:
(See additional photos here)
11:00 am: The line for the free Tent State Music Festival with the Flobots, Jello Biafra (speechifying), legendary anti-war protestor Ron Kovic, and Rage Against The Machine is still snaking out into the parking lot despite an 11:00 am show time.
“Tickets” were administered through a lottery system. Hopeful fans signed up on lined notebook paper at Tent State. Winners who were emailed last night receive two tickets.
Frantic texting from “ticket” holding fans inside the Colosseum to their ticket-less friends with no cause to wake up reveal that the lottery was in fact a brilliant exercise in social engineering. No tickets exist. No ID’s are checked. At the front of the line fans are rubber stamped and issued a wrist band. “Ticket holders” who managed to show up to a rock show prior to 10:00 am (a major logistical hurdle) are issued what amounts to a VIP floor pass.
12:30 am: All fans waiting to get in, ticket holding or not, are now sheepled-up at interior lines, waiting to hair-the-dog with a $7 domestic draft or suit up with a red “Battle of Denver” t-shirt. Late comers walk right in. No one is turned away. The “ticket” charade has prevented an angry mob from gathering outside trying to exercise their “right” to a free concert. The Colosseum is at a comfortable 85% capacity. Anyone who wants a seat can find one.
12:45 pm: Ron Kovic is wheeled out on stage, burnishes his credentials and issues an emotionally arresting call to action, “I’m a Vietnam veteran against the war. I’ve been in this wheelchair forty years because of the Vietnam war. I’ve been arrested in this wheelchair twelve times protesting war. This is our country. They’re not going to shut us up. They’re not going to shut us down. We WILL NOT BOW! ... We will STAND TALL. We will march. We will END THIS WAR! We will bring all the troops home. ... We will do this non-violently. We will do this with dignity in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, in the spirit of Nelson Mandella. We are going to make history in the streets of Denver today!”
(See the sideways video)
2:30 pm: Rage Against The Machine is burning up the stage. Tom Morello looks like he’s having a prolonged seizure. Zack de la Rocha, who has taken to wearing (red) button-ups now that he’s in the 35 to 45 social demographic, puts about twelve miles on the pedometer sprinting back and forth across the stage. Wayne Kramer of the MC5 comes out in a white jumpsuit and star spangled guitar to pour gas on the fire with Kick Out The Jams.
(See video clip)
Take The Power Back!
3:30 pm: Rage rips through an encore of I Think I Hear a Shot and Killing In The Name, eliciting a raucous sing along of;
FUCK YOU! I WON”T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!
FUCK YOU! I WON”T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!
Kasper Bohne, a center-right radio correspondent for Mancow and WIST New Orleans, who gave his nonexistent second ticket to The Barnacle Protestor, discerned that we had all just gone through a text-book indoctrination.
4:00 pm: Approximately seventy percent of the six-thousand concert attendees fall into line behind Ron Kovic, and two disciplined marching squads of twenty five uniformed Iraq War Veterans Against The War and head south down Brighton Blvd. for the three mile march to the Pepsi Center.
A mile into the march a Recreate 68 activist, who had made some quasi-threatening remarks to The Barnacle Protestor at Sunday mornings Capitol Rally, ends up shoulder to shoulder with him.
BP “Oh... Hey.”
R68 “What are you doing here?” (Noticing The Barnacle Protestor left all his SPAGZ LIES gear and the whirligig at home.)
BP “Supporting the Iraq War Veterans Against The War.” (i.e. inclusive as opposed to parasitic protesting.)
R68 “Me too bro...”
When we’re admonished over the bull-horn to stay behind the banner unless we are veterans, The Barnacle Protestors informs me that he was in the Navy for 4 months, 19 days, 9 hours, and 12 minutes.
Hold The Line : Tom Morello in cap and glasses – front and center.
Several thousand marchers enter downtown.
6:00 pm: Whittled down to about fifteen-hundred, the marchers gather at Auraria Campus, directly across the street from The Pepsi Center. We’re all coached on the procedure. The non-veterans will stop at the border of the “free-speech zone”. The Veterans will march forward into the demilitarized zone to present a letter with three demands to the DNC.
If a second Order to Disperse is issued to the crowd, the third order being issued in conjunction with a area wide moistening of pepper spray, the veterans will sit down. If invited by the veterans, marchers willing to commit civil disobedience and risk arrest may move forward and sit behind the veterans. All others are to disperse peacefully and immediately.
The march reaches the border of the "Free Speech Zone" at The Pepsi Center
Back in the crowd, a young marcher approaches The Barnacle Protestor
ym “Your The Barnacle Protestor! I heard your crazy!”
BP “Some say crazy, some say genius.”
ym “I haven’t heard genius.”
After the kid walks away The Barnacle Protestor shows me his Mensa Card and tattoo. To join Mensa pledges must take both standard IQ tests while being observed by a Mensa proctor. You can only take the test once. Based on the test results Mesa accepts “people from every walk of life whose IQ is in the top 2%.”
7:00 pm: Rumors of the first Order to Disperse and stonewalling from the DNC – someone quips, “This is what happens when you negotiate with the Democrats” – result in an abrupt call to attention and about face.
Unconventional Anarchists, Code Pink activists, Recreate 68ers, Tent Staters, concerned citizens, and media media media media media fall into line behind the vets to march around the campus to a more strategic position. In an eye-moistening display of cultural unity the Unconventional Anarchists take position behind the vets begin to yell,
They’re our BROTHERS!
They’re our SISTERS!
We support WAR RESISTERS!
Support Our Troops! !? !
7:45 pm: After circling around through Auraria campus to a more aggressive position at 15th and Stout, well outside the designated protest zone, and at the front entrance to the Pepsi Center blockade, the protestors are divided by Tent State activists into those willing to be arrested – in a tight pod of approximately a hundred fifty – and a swelling crowd across Speer Blvd. in the pre-designated safe zone.
True Heros #1: Tent State activist and Iraq War Veterans Against The War.
True Heros #2: Code Pink Activist and a professional Denver Police force.
Media media media media meida media wander like grazing cattle amongst the fully geared riot police sporting full-auto pepper-ball guns, re-positioned vets, and remaining protestors. A call through the bullhorn from Tent State encourages all onlookers, thrill seekers, and media media media to, “Stop for a minute! Look around! Realize where your standing!”
A bike-taxi driver transporting a pant-suit wearing mom and two blond children under ten tries to breach the police barricade by ringing his handle-bar bell. Ding Ding... Ding Ding...
Getting the shot... or about to get shot.
(See official IWVAW pictures here)
8:00 pm: Former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes comes out of the Pepsi Center to accept the Iraq War veterans letter. Former Marines Jeff Key and Liam Madden, in dress uniform, are escorted onto the convention floor for a Denver PD, Iraq War Veterans Against The War, Secret Service, and Obama Campaign negotiated meeting with Phil Carter, head of veterans affairs for the Obama campaign.
8:45 pm: The At Ease command is issued to the vets. Ron Kovic and the vets all noticeably relax. The announcement is made to the crowd through a bull-horn that the Obama campaign has agreed “in-principle” to the Iraq War Veterans demands; , “Immediate withdrawal, full veterans benefits, and reparations for the Iraqi people”.
The crowd chants Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! to the vets. The vets announce to the crowd, “Thank you for standing with us.” They fall out, the crowd peaceably disperses almost unable to believe that tonight in The United States of America WE THE PEOPLE actually effected CHANGE...
Born on the Fourth of July. Enforcing Change today.