DENVER - If anything can be said about the members of CODEPINK, it’s that they are a restless lot.
Not satisfied with chanting anti-war slogans from a stationary
position in front of Denver’s Union Station Sunday afternoon, the 200
or so adherents of the women-led peace advocacy group moved their
message to the 16th Street Mall — and straight into a phalanx of
helmeted, masked, and truncheon-toting police officers.
The CODEPINK marchers, which included a lively contingent from
Boulder County, immediately went into a mass freeze with finger-formed
peace signs above their heads as they faced off with stoic officers
between Lawrence and Larimer streets.
When they realized they could proceed no further down the busy thoroughfare, the protesters broke out into a pacifist sing-song.
“One, two, three, four, peace is what we’re marching for,” they
intoned. “Hey, pay attention, this should be a peace convention.”
Anne Marie Pois, of Boulder, expressed disappointment at the
“over-militarized” law enforcement response to CODEPINK’s peace parade,
which was halted because participants were congregating in the road
rather than the sidewalk.
“I guess it’s their first day doingthis,” she said of the
black-garbed officers weighed down with weaponry, hanging off roving
SUVs, and perched atop horses masked against potential airborne crowd
As her colleagues drifted back to Union Station, so concluded one of
the first of many protests to come at the Democratic National
Convention, which officially starts today and runs through Thursday
Anne Toepel, 41, helped form the Boulder/Denver CODEPINK chapter a
few months ago and was one of the people orchestrating Sunday’s
procession. She also said the police response was “overdone.”
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“We are completely practitioners of non-violence,” she said of the
group, whose name is a play on the Bush administration’s color-coded
national security alert system.
Toepel, a single mother from Boulder who teaches at Whittier
Elementary School, will be busy with other activist commitments the
rest of the week - all of them outside the official venues of the
She said she is feeling only “lukewarm to hopeful” about the
impending nomination of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama as the party’s
“I’m not in the Obama bubble,” said Toepel, an early supporter of
liberal presidential contender Dennis Kucinich. “We have to push him on
the war. But our government is so corrupt, there is so much pressure
for him to buckle.”
Deidre Johnston, a Boulderite since 1982, expressed the same lack of
confidence in Obama’s ability to quickly end the war in Iraq. She, too,
rooted for a Kucinich victory in the primary.
“Obama’s a much better choice than (Republican presidential
candidate) John McCain, but I’m very concerned that he wants to go into
places like Afghanistan and Pakistan in a war-like way,” she said, as
her 10-year-old son stood nearby.
Johnston, 44, said the Democratic Party should work harder at
including all the disparate elements within its constituency rather
than moving the majority of the party toward the political center.
“I wish we had more of a seat at the table and were allowed inside
the zone without being put in a cage,” Johnston said, referring to the
fenced-off protest area located outside the Pepsi Center. “I would like
to see the Democratic Party stand up for the policies it said it would
stand up for.”