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That was quick! Anarchists amass downtown; traffic snarled for hours

Categories: Protest Watch
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Welcome to Denver!

Click here to see highlights from Sunday afternoon.

Between 300 and 500 self-proclaimed anarchists associated with the far-left group Unconventional Action weaved through downtown Denver for several hour this afternoon, in an unscheduled march that blocked numerous streets and intersections.

It began around 2 p.m. in conjunction with a Tent State-sponsored Funk the War: Dance for Peace convergence that brought demonstrators from several locations into the city center to protest the war in Iraq. The demonstrators pushed a music system in a shopping cart retrofitted with cardboard to look like a red tank. There was a massive law enforcement presence of police outfitted in full riot gear, riding motorcycles, driving vans, mounted on horses and some undercover (Tip to cops: Anarchists don't wear Nikes) that followed the mismatched crowd closely.

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After weaving through streets in the central business district and along the 16th Street Mall, the march went through Civic Center Park, first blocking Broadway and then Lincoln street for extended periods. Each time the police forces would mass in lines and order the group to leave the street.

One officer holding a pepper ball gun was overheard shouting to another officer, "I just want to shoot these motherfuckers so bad!" But they didn't, and showed extreme restraint as the mob moved on to another intersection when the police presence became too constricting, thereby forcing police to block traffic once again.

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The march ended roughly four and a half hours after it began, when police were able to box in the anarchists on Stout Street between 15th and 16th, forcing nearly half of the group to escape into a parking garage. The people that ran into the garage were pursued by officers on motorcycle and, later, several white police vans were seen driving into the building.

And the four-day convention doesn't even start until tomorrow. -- Jared Jacang Maher

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