An old man recited poetry into Keith Valentine’s camera. A couple of people talked about racism in America. Bands played.
Valentine’s camera caught the peaceful beginnings of a march that would end in a dramatic clash downtown as the Democratic National Convention opened a mile away.
The march was getting ready to begin at Civic Center – Colfax Avenue to 15th Street then over to the 16th Street Mall. The protesters didn’t have a permit to do that, but, then again, they were anarchists.
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Hawzien Gebremedhin, 19, walked along and saw someone spray-painting a newspaper box. Valentine, 20, saw the anarchist symbol sprayed onto an electrical box. Both were near the Webb building.
At that point, hundreds of police officers in riot gear swarmed the protesters, boxing them in and stopping their march at 15th Street and Court Place.
Officers sent pepper spray into the crowd and held back protesters with batons. By the end of the evening, 106 people were arrested. Dozens of video cameras captured the drama.
Protesters claim the police action was overkill and aggravated an otherwise peaceful march.