Anarchists, Charlie Rangel and the Denver Cops

As you wander the sunny streets of Lower Downtown Denver among the crowds of conventioneers, you can’t help but notice that the police presence is daunting.

I’ve had no interaction with the police – except to ask them for directions – but New Mexico Common Cause Executive Director Steve Allen did last night. He’s in Denver for the convention, where the local chapter of his organization is hosting some events.

Allen told me he was just minding his own business last night, walking down the street, when he ducked into a LoDo hotel to use the restroom. He noticed a few young anarchists hanging around outside the hotel but thought nothing of it.

Then he ran into venerable New York congressman Charles Rangel, holding court in the hotel lobby with his entourage and forgot all about the anarchists.

It was all pretty cool, he thought, until he went to the bathroom and couldn’t get out.

About 100 police had alerted on the anarchists, closed down the hotel and wouldn’t let anyone move. Not Allen, stuck in the bathroom. Or Rangel, hanging tough with his posse.

After what seemed like a very long time, the police let Allen and everyone else leave the hotel.

“You could smell the tear gas in the air,” said Allen, who snapped a quick picture of the police and a lone anarchist in the wake of the standoff.

Can someone say overkill?

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