DENVER – A small skirmish broke out in Civic Center Park today as police quickly moved in to break up what appeared to be a shoving match between militant Christians and anarchist protesters gathered in Denver for the second day of the Democratic National Convention.
Police on horseback and clad in black riot gear quickly moved in and surrounded the officers trying to quell the fight. As they tried to move the protesters they were detaining to the west edge of the park, others quickly started chanting, “Let them go!”
An officer on a golf cart used a megaphone to urge people to “clear space so officers can do their job.”
People filming the skirmish quickly surrounded the perimeter.
Police on horseback rode circles around the people being arrested, and those officers were surrounded by officers facing outward armed with batons and military-style rifles. The weapons had orange markings on the stocks and larger-than normal barrels, indicating they fired only rubber bullets.
“Welcome to the police state of America!” shouted one man using a bullhorn.
Meanwhile, Larry Miller, 49, of Parker held his 8-year-old daughter Jillian, who appeared frightened.
“These are the people who are keeping the peace,” Miller explained, pointing to the police. “We all have a right to free speech in the United States.”
“It’s important for her to see democracy in action. Free speech. Law and order,” Miller said. “We came downtown to expose her to marchers and people trying to get their message to the delegates and the DNC. They’re trying to shape the country and mold the future.”
“I saw them taking some girl,” Jillian said, referencing a protester who was led away in plastic blue restraints.
“There’s supposed to be a puppet march, but the Christians showed up,” one man was overheard saying.
The skirmish was quelled within 20 minutes and the puppet march began before noon.
It was hard to tell who was protesting what, and what groups were being represented.
People handed out fliers on environmental movements, transportation and anti-abortion issues.
There were protesters espousing “Peace with Iran,” anti-homosexual signs and shouts, and signs reading: “Universal Human Rights,” “Nuclear Free World” and “Government Transparency, Truth and Accountability.”
Paige Powers, 22, of Denver, stood ready to lead a “Procession for the Future,” with an emphasis on peace.
“We’re excited to let our voice be heard,” Powers said. “The whole nation is watching Denver. This is our chance to get things done.”