Denver authorities are preparing for huge protests, traffic tie-ups, and civil disturbances at the Democratic National Convention this month, fearing that the convention will become a magnet for militant protest groups, reports the New York Times. This differs from past conventions because of the historic nature of Senator Barack Obama's nomination, whose global spotlight could draw tens of thousands of demonstrators, including self-described anarchists who the police fear will infiltrate peaceful protests to disrupt the weeklong event.
While law enforcement officials say there are no specific, credible threats against Obama, they expressed concern about low-level chatter on Web sites frequented by white separatists who spew hate about Obama's race and what they perceive as his liberal agenda. When Obama announced that he would accept his party's nomination not at the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver but at Invesco Field, home of the Denver Broncos, the Secret Service scrambled to work out plans with local authorities to secure the open-air stadium, which seats more than 75,000. The Denver Police Department will nearly double in size; the city is bringing in nearly 1,500 police officers from communities throughout Colorado and beyond, even inviting an eight-person mounted unit from Cheyenne, Wy. A federal judge is expected to rule this week in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking to ease security provisions at the convention. The ACLU has suggested that the Secret Service and the Denver police have exaggerated risks as part of a crackdown on dissent.