Tense times in political battlefield | AspenTimes.com

Tense times in political battlefield

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad The Aspen Times

DENVER ” A standoff between rival demonstrators and subsequent confrontations with police Tuesday were stark examples of the rising tensions that surround the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver this week.

Police arrested at least two protesters during a series of incidents at Civic Center Park near the state Capitol on Tuesday. Video shows an officer shoving his baton into the chest of a female demonstrator, knocking her to the ground, as she questioned police about the arrest of another protester. She was arrested a minute later by the same officer as she complained to reporters about the treatment.

The woman, Alicia Forrest, was to be released Tuesday night after friends paid her $500 bond on a charge of interfering with an arrest.

Forrest, apparently from the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Code Pink peace organization, was asking police why the other activist, Carlo Javier Garcia, of Denver, was arrested on a charge of failing to obey a police officer’s order, Forrest’s friends said.

Forrest appears to be suddenly shoved to the ground by an officer using his baton in two hands and pushing her, as shown in a clip shot by Rocky Mountain News videographer George Kochaniec Jr., and posted on the newspaper’s website. The video can be seen at


“What the f— are you doing?” an onlooker asks in the video.

Moments later, as she was talking with a group of reporters about the incident, what appeared to be the same officer walked up and grabbed her by the arm, pulling her away.

“She was one of a number of people trying to find out where this person was being taken,” said Sally Newman, legal liaison and spokeswoman for Code Pink. “They just arrested her along with him.”

According to members of the group Recreate ’68, Garcia was arrested after he objected to police allowing a rival group, the Bible Believers and co-founder Ruben Israel, to use the Civic Center Park during a time when Recreate ’68 had a permit to gather there.

A Rocky Mountain News story on the Forrest arrest quotes police sources as saying there will be an investigation into the use of force against Forrest.

“I think the cops are trying to do all they can to provoke another conflict today,” said Glenn Spagnuolo, a member of Recreate ’68, a group that had been involved in an altercation with police Monday night in which he said 86 of his group had been arrested.

“We have the permit for the park,” Spagnuolo said, adding that his organization had met with police earlier in the day “to make some kind of truce” with police.

But “they don’t want to negotiate,” he said, adding, “It’s going to be a hot night tonight.”


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