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Denver police on high alert amid rowdy protests

Dave Wedge
Boston Herald [1]
Wednesday, Aug 27, 2008

DENVER – Cops are firing pepper spray at protesters and beefing up security after a spate of scuffles around the Mile High City and a reported threat against Barack Obama.

Machine-gun toting officers are on high alert around the city, patrolling the 16th Street mall, which has been the site of a few uprisings this week and a gathering spot for large groups of rabid protesters.

Yesterday, 13 anti-abortion activists were arrested during an orchestrated demonstration at a security gate near the Pepsi Center, where the Democratic National Convention is being held.

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Officers dressed in riot gear stood guard and processed the protesters while people, some with passes to get into the convention, walked by. Other anti-abortion protesters unfurled a huge sign on a mesa west of Denver and later removed it.

Monday night, the Denver Convention Center was locked down for about an hour because of police and protesters clashing outside. The convention center is a few blocks from the Pepsi Center and has been hosting thousands of delegates and others for DNC viewing parties.

The situation got ugly Monday afternoon at Civic Center Park when police used pepper spray to clear crowds and arrested more than 100 for a variety of offenses.

Police said some of the protesters were carrying rocks and other items that could be used to threaten public safety. Police used pepper spray and also fired pepper pellets into the crowd. Those same weapons were used to subdue unruly Red Sox fans in 2004, which led to the death of a 24-year-old Emerson College student who was struck in the eye by a pellet.