Denver police hit protesters with pepper spray from cannons, arrest 100
John Byrne
Published: Tuesday August 26, 2008

Print This  Email This

Denver police have taken 100 protesters into custody after ordering them to disperse and spraying them with pepper spray from cannons.

The action happened last night but more details have emerged this morning.

Riot police forced several hundred protesters out of the civic center and blocked them before they could reach the 16th St. Mall. They used at least two armored vehicles, according to the Denver Post.

A spokeswoman for the convention's Joint Information Center, "said one officer fired pepper spray during the initial confrontation near the City and County Building and one officer fire pepper spray on 15th Street. She also said one officer fired pepper balls in once instance, but wasn't sure of the timing."

The spokeswoman said the office fired his spray after protesters "charged the police line." She did not cite any violence on the protesters' behalf.

Police processed detainees until nearly 1am ET last night. They were then loaded onto sheriff's detainees for transport to a temporary "processing center" set up just for the convention. Denver Police have been criticized by civil liberties groups such as the ACLU, which released a leaked memo showing that the police had classified all manner of people as a threat, including those on bicycles, wearing football helmets, or carrying city maps or protest signs.

"I'm a little in shock," said Joey-Kenzie, 21, of Denver, told the Post after spending about an hour and a half in the crowd of people pinned in by SWAT officers.

Officers group surrounded the protesters, leaving them no way out.

"At one point we didn't know what we were going to do, we were going to get arrested or maced," Kenzie added, saying. police never asked for her identification.

Larry Hales, speaking for the group Recreate 68 said his group did nothing wrong Monday and had a permit for the Civic Center gathering when police closed in and created havoc.

CNN reported on the protests Monday. A reporter from the scene said he'd seen no violence from the protesters, and complimented police on their handling of the scene earlier in the day.

One protester told the paper the police had used the spray "like a supersoaker."

The paper offered a chaotic blow by blow of the moments leading up to the police spray.

The detained grouped chanted in unison: "Who screams? We scream."

Some in the crowd outside the police lines, which included onlookers and media, chanted: "Cops here. Bombs there. U.S. out of everywhere."

"Speech is free. Let them be."

"Show me what the First Amendment looks like."

"Let them go."

"Watch out! They're gearing up," some in the crowd shouted, as officers donned gas masks and other protective equipment.

A girl warned anyone with contact lenses to get out of the area.

"The spray will fuse your contact lenses to your eyeballs," she said.

Read the full story here.