Thursday, November 29, 2007



Status conference set for Friday, November 30, 12 noon, Courtroom 117M, City and County Building, Denver. Media are welcome to attend.

Columbus Day Protesters have charged Denver city officials with acting arrogantly by disrespecting an order from Denver Judge Bohning and by disregarding the constitutional rights of defendants.

Attorneys for Transform Columbus Day Alliance (TCDA) defendants are responding to the willful disobedience of the Denver City Attorney's office in contempt of the court’s order to comply.

City attorneys were ordered to disclose which, if any, of its attorneys were present at a political protest at the Columbus Day parade October 6, 2007. They refused to disclose those names, and a motion for contempt of court was filed by the legal team representing 85 defendants in the case.

If city attorneys were present at the parade, their presence may disqualify them from prosecuting the cases, because they could be called as witnesses. They may have assisted Denver Police in orchestrating the arrests of the defendants.

On a motion made October 26 on behalf of the TCDA defendants, the Denver City Court ordered city attorney Daniel Douglas to provide, by November 9, the names of any city attorneys present at the protest. Douglas failed to comply with the court order, and the defendants' motion to find the city attorney in contempt of court was filed November 15. A hearing date for this motion is pending in Judge Bohning’s courtroom, 151P.

Instead of complying with the court's initial disclosure order, the city attorney filed an objection, contending that he is not required to investigate the matter.

The city attorney's decision to ignore the order was "legally invalid" and "rather disingenuous," said a member of the TCDA legal defense team. Ignoring the order represents a "blatant and willful violation" and the city attorney "should be held in contempt until he complies," he said.

The motion is one of several filed recently in connection with the Columbus Day protest, including a motion for access to Denver Police Internal Affairs documents as well as related e-mails to and from the police or sheriff's offices and the office of the mayor.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper has said the police acted "with restraint" at the protest, during which more than 80 arrests took place, some accompanied by the use of pain compliance and other unjustified, violent tactics.

Police officials have referred questions concerning the arrest methods to the Internal Affairs Division or the city's Office of the Independent Monitor, from which no immediate comment was available.

A police spokesperson said the Internal Affairs Division is "aware of issues (concerning allegations of excessive use of force) brought to the attention of Internal Affairs and is looking diligently into the allegations at this time." No further comment will be made at present, the spokesperson said.

One Columbus Day arrestee, a student at the University of Denver, contends his Constitutional rights were violated because he was arrested even though he was simply a bystander at the parade and had pointed out an undercover police officer(s). He was "plucked from the crowd" and arrested, according to defense attorneys. After he was released from jail, Denver Police contacted the University of Denver to suggest that academic disciplinary action should be brought against the student, despite the fact that he has not been convicted of any crime.

The misdemeanor charges in connection with the political protest on Columbus Day generally allege disrupting a public assembly or blocking a public street.

Defenses to be employed at the trials of the more than 80 defendants focus in part on the right to free speech, to civil and political rights, and to protection under international laws against genocide and racial discrimination, attorneys said. The constitutionality of the ordinances under which most protesters have been charged, will also be challenged.



This and other great graphics, as well as Mano's account of Columbus Day 07, are at:


It's been over a month, now, and I realize I've been in denial about the post-traumatic stress response my body and spirit had to the arrest. I haven't wanted to see it because compared to what others suffered, and compared to what I've faced, and what so many others have faced, at other times in other places, this "wasn't so bad." We all carry so much bravado sometimes, such an awareness of how privileged we are compared to much of the world, it can be embarrassing to admit injury, even psychic. Those of you who saw me fall apart at the Copwatch video showing can perhaps see better than I that it had more of an impact on me than I wanted to admit.

In the six weeks since the arrest, I've found myself angry and tense, volatile, my body carrying stress in my shoulders and back, my patience with others grown thin. My wrists still hurt from the pain compliance holds. On the upside, I find myself speaking my mind more frequently, clearly, and immediately than I've ever done before in my life. On the downside, I've lost at least one friend and am probably alienating lots of people. I feel more alive. I also feel more outraged at what passes for human behavior in this society, outraged at what passes for pacifism, what passes for activism. Not outraged at us. Outraged at others, with whom I also identify.

I think when you find yourself engaged in protest or civil disobedience in response to injustice and oppression over a period of years, when you find your puny self surrounded by brave, even legendary non-violent warriors on a somewhat regular basis, your perspective on things can get weird. You forget that it's not normal or right for people to treat people cruelly, regardless of what kind of uniform the perpetrator wears. You forget that perpetrators exercising the freedom to choose how many degrees of evil they use against you don't deserve exculpatory self-flagelation ("it's not so bad for them to do this, when you consider they could have done that").

One's perspective about oneself can also get cloudy. Hence my breakdown at the Copwatch showing. I'm sorry I made it all about me. It's so not. Even feeling like I didn't do enough is a form of egocentrism. I wanted to be strong, or stronger, to be able to take the hits as hard as some of our other brave warriors did, and I wasn't, and I was ashamed. But that's all about ego, and ego doesn't move the struggle forward. It's a variation of survival guilt, and what moves us forward is a sense of responsibility for the future which we can change, not guilt about the past, which we cannot.

Monica said something to me that night, that really helped me realize how damaged I was (in a good way). She pointed out that what I was feeling was part of their colonization, part of how they hurt and weaken us, to make us think that we're weak because we can't withstand their brutality, that we're wrong because we're vulnerable, when in fact, no one should treat another person like this. And in non-violent struggle, our vulnerability is our strength, and we are not weak. We are human.

I mentioned to Glenn recently that one of the things I appreciate about non-violent action--and particularly an action like this--is how democratic it is. You don't have to be strong, or big, or tall, or male, or "able-bodied," or know how to use high-tech gadgetry or weapons. You just have to be true to yourself, your community, and your values. You have to have a little bit of courage, and a little bit of clarity.

I think of Rachel Corrie, a thin, 23 year old woman, lying under that Israeli bulldozer, saying "my back is broken"--the last words she ever said. She did what she was able to do. She gave her all, she gave her best, and I hope she left this world with no regrets. She wasn't defeated, because her courage and her clarity and spirit outlive her. She is one of our ancestors now, and I really believe she was with us that October day in the street.

A couple of years ago, my partner Mark and I visited Olympia, Washington, Rachel's home city. We tried to find someone who knew her, and wanted to find a place we could go to pay our respects to her. We were fortunate to speak with a woman who had known her, and she suggested we go down to a place where there was a pipe of water running into the sea, where a creek used to be. Because of it, the salmon couldn't get home anymore, and the friend said that always upset Rachel. She always had a very strong sense of the right to home--to go home, to be at home, safe.

We paid our respects to Rachel's spirit that day, at that place, and said a prayer for the salmon. And we paid our respects to her, and the salmon, in the street on October 6th. I have no regrets, now. I did what I was able to do. They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

And all of us engaged in struggle know that sometimes, even when they kill us, they make us more powerful than they can possibly imagine*. That's because our ancestors walk with us. They see only the bodies of the living, and so they don't fathom our numbers or our strength. Eduardo Galleano said, "When we fight and create, we say to our fallen companeros, `You didn't die when they killed you.'" In return, when we are injured, in body or spirit, our fallen comrades lift us up and hold us close, and help us prepare for next time. We must let them.

Trauma can build scar-tissue over your heart, and that's dangerous. We have to look at the wounds, and heal them properly. If the city's heart, the state's heart, the nation's heart, the parade organizers' hearts remain hardened to historical truth, to morality, to justice, there will be a next time. We will be ready, and we will be stronger. But only if we do the necessary work to heal, and that includes telling the truth--complete and unvarnished--about what they did to us.

Let us help each other. And let us tell the truth about what they did--to anyone who will listen.

*yes, I know I'm quoting Obi-Wan Kenobi, but he was right!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


To TCD defenders and supporters and in order to minimize confusion--This blog was created as a place to share experiences and information from the Columbus Day confrontation. Please feel free to tell your story either as a comment (which can be as lengthy as you like, of course) or by sending to Carol Berry ( and she will post the narrative for you. (Because of potential security concerns, it seemed unwise to post the password for this blog). Thanks!

Thursday, November 8, 2007


DENVER—The annual Columbus Day parade protest seemed to have it all—fake blood on the street, colorful banners, drums and eagle staffs, Hummers and Harleys, robocops, a float with Queen Isabella and some guy in faux ermine, 1950s-era swing bands, even a police sniper atop a nearby building.

What it did not have was violence, with one exception—Denver police behavior, according to some arrestees who were in the street to protest the 100th commemoration of Columbus in Colorado, the first state to recognize the holiday. They and other Indian people object to what they regard as a holiday honoring genocide and white supremacy.

It turns out the blood on the street wasn’t all fake.

Some protesters were roughed up during arrest, with injuries, documented on film, that for one Native man included dark neck bruises from a baton choke-hold and a cut and bloodied mouth. For others, there was tendon, joint, and muscle pain and swelling from the striking, twisting, and contorting of various submission methods used by Denver police, including the SWAT team. An older Native woman in a wheelchair was among those arrested.

The offenses that triggered the police behavior?

Protesters had gone into the street as a parade was taking place and thereby committed misdemeanors under the municipal code—loitering-level offenses, on the whole. Some, who tried to fend off forcible arrest, were charged with resisting.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper “did drop by (the parade) to check in with police and get an update on how the parade and protest were progressing,” his communications director said. “The Columbus Day parade is a challenging event for our law enforcement operations.”

“We are committed to upholding the right to free speech and the freedom to assemble. At the same time, protecting public safety is paramount. This extends to the safety of the parade participants, the protesters and the general public.

“Assessing whether safety is being threatened or about to be threatened is very difficult in the midst of an event that becomes increasingly chaotic and during which some protesters are ignoring police orders to disperse from the parade route. Of those who did ignore police orders, some were arrested peacefully, while others resisted arrest,” the spokesperson said.

“Fact: In nearly 20 years of protesting the Columbus Day parade in Denver, no one has been charged with a violent offense and no one has been convicted of anything,” said one of the arrestees, who declined to give his name. “We’ll repeat it as often as we can—no charges of violence, and no convictions, period.

“Only Indians are ever expected to be ‘violent.’ Every year they ask us, basically, ‘Are you going to be violent?’ They don’t ask that of the Italians, let alone the cops.

“It’s part of the prevailing American myth of marauding Indians and peaceful white settlers. It’s part of a need to reinforce the dominance of white invaders without acknowledging their own use of violence or the reality that Natives who were ‘violent’ in defense of their homeland were actually patriots.”

Unintended irony: Parade protesters from families indigenous to this continent were greeted by a sign on one of the floats: America. . .Love It or Leave It.”


Sunday, November 4, 2007


THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CREATED to provide a place for those who were mistreated by police or who had other memorable experiences at the Columbus Day charade in downtown Denver to write about their thoughts or experiences so that others can understand what really took place in Colorado's capital city on October 6, 2007.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (who was at the parade) said after the event that he felt Denver police had acted "with restraint." He has said repeatedly he is concerned with the safety of both the parade participants and protestors. In 18 years of people's exercising their right to protest this tribute to a murderous invader, no violence has occurred at the parade nor have there been any convictions for unlawful behavior.

Yet this year (presumably as a prelude to the DNC) there were riot cops armed with M-16s and the widespread, unnecessary misuse of pain compliance against peaceful protestors. Others, including a Native woman in a wheelchair and a sightless man, were treated disrespectfully and jailed along with the rest of the 88 arrestees.

We hope people will regard this blog as a way of validating their experiences and of penetrating the fog of city propaganda. A single note of caution: If you are an arrestee, check with the legal team before (or if) you use your own name in your account of activities at the Columbus Day parade, or before you provide details of your experience that might identify you personally.