Driving around Denver, it’s rare to pass a business that isn’t trying to capitalize on the sudden swell in population by offering convention specials. Shotgun Willie’s, the strip club that’s going to be competing with the tonier Diamond Cabaret — located just blocks from the Pepsi Center, and a favorite of Nuggets players — has put up several welcome signs for delegates, and, oddly, an ad for an Al Gore speech on “Organic Income” that, one assumes, won’t involve topless women.
City officials and civil servants, on the other hand, sound divided between glee and just wanting to get this over with. Mayor Hickenlooper might be close to collapsing from exhaustion or a nervous breakdown. Detox centers, we hear, have added beds, and after an extensive debate, the holding cells for drunks and rebels will be topped with chain link instead of razor wire. According to a source in health care, a large hospital brought in hundreds of life-size dolls and ran drills on how to evacuate an entire hospital full of patients in case of an emergency.
And the police were out in such numbers it was almost laughable. On Sunday, the streets teemed with bicycle cops, mounties, and several white vehicles with swat-team members riding on the outside. For the most part, they just blocked off streets and glared at protesters. But we did happen upon the big protest downtown at the exact moment that a real commotion began. There was a collapse of bodies and suddenly officers emerged holding a pudgy, squirming person who kept shouting out “Fuck the police!” Upon closer examination, said person appeared to be about 12. “Let him go, you fucking pigs,” one particularly outraged bystander cried out. “Oh, shut up,” we heard another woman mutter back. “The swat team’s been waiting for this moment for months.”