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Activist Networking Opportunities Abound According to Organizers

By Chris Krohn, Special to the Planet
Thursday August 21, 2008 - 10:34:00 AM

There’s going to be a party in the streets of Denver—an activist party, according to Recreate68 co-founders, Mark Cohen and Glenn Spagnuolo. The Planet spoke with both of them this week in separate telephone interviews.  

Cohen’s day job is as a writer and editor, but for the past year and a half his life has been taken over by this new endeavor, “ever since the DNC designated Denver as the site,” he said. Recreate68 has been working to make sure the Democrats know what the issues are and the group’s hope is that delegates themselves will actually take part in a host of activities now planned outside of Denver’s Pepsi Center, site of the 2008 Democratic National Convention (DNC). Cohen adds, “Many of the delegates are to the left of their party’s leadership and they [the delegates] are closer to the people who will be in the streets.” So the plan, according to Cohen, is for activists to make themselves known outside of the Pepsi Center, and “we are going to be trying to reach delegates at their hotels” as well. 

Recreate68’s website describes the group as follows; “The Recreate 68 Alliance is a group of local activists who will be acting as a clearing house in order to disseminate information for resistance so the power of the people can be expressed as loudly as possible!” 

It goes on to say that the group will act as an umbrella organization planning and providing support for demonstrations around the Democratic National Convention.” 

It might be difficult for activists and protesters to get very near the delegates since, according to Cohen, the Secret Service and Homeland Security are putting protesters “a ridiculous length away from the Pepsi Center—more than two football fields in length.” Cohen goes on to say they erected not one but two eight-foot fences “between demonstrators and convention-goers and there will be police patrolling between the two fences.”  

Denver Judge Marcia Krieger recently turned down Recreate68 and the ACLU request to move demonstrators closer to the Pepsi Center. “Once the Secret Service says ‘terrorism,’ the court lets them do whatever they want,” says Recreate68 co-founder, Spagnuolo. “But the delegates will have a hard time ignoring thousands of people.”  

How many people will come is anybody’s guess. Spagnuolo says he has heard multiple estimates of anywhere between 10,000 and 50,000. According to Spagnuolo, Recreate68 came together “in the spirit of change that was achieved in Prague, Paris and Mexico City [in 1968]. People were in the streets around the world,” and that is what they are looking to “recreate,” he says. In the past Spagnuolo has also said the group is made of progressive activists who have united around a common cause, namely in this case the DNC. 

Spagnuolo said that the main issues Recreate68 would like to see Democrats address are for “Barack Obama to bring the troops home now, an end to imperialism, and an end to human rights violations including Guantanamo and the USA Patriot Act.” Cohen added that he was also focusing on the first and fourth amendments. “ Since 9/11 it has become a crime to dissent and we’re fighting back,” he said. 

According to Recreate68’s website, “The only delegates that will truly represent the will of the people are the people themselves. The Republicans are organizing, the Democrats are organizing, it is time ‘We the People’ do the same.” One of the highlights of that organizing will be a rally this Sunday at the Colorado state capitol building, followed by a march to the Pepsi Center, “or as far as we can go,” according to Cohen. Featured speakers at the 9 a.m. rally will be Vietnam Veteran and author of Born on the Fourth of July, Ron Kovic, independent congressional candidate Cindy Sheehan, Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney and former Black Panther Party member Kathleen Cleaver.