DNC: Vets Blitz Mall Lunch Hour with Anti-war Message
August 26, 2008
The usual business lunch crowd on the 16th Street mall dodged a group of U.S. Army veterans holding invisible guns and crouching against potential enemy fire.
Sometimes the 25-member group, outfitted in fatigues, would grab “Iraqi citizens” and push them up against building walls and hood their heads.
The group, Iraq Veterans Against the War, carried out the peaceful”though jarring, especially to Denverites trying to get to a lunch spot”demonstration during Tuesday’s noon hour in downtown Denver.
The roving simulation called “Operation First Casualty” covered several blocks on the western end of the mall and displayed how U.S. troops carry out dangerous duties in Iraqi war zones.
One exchange between the veterans went:
Sergeant: “We’re not shooting any innocents today!”
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Enlisted troop: “They hate us here, Sarge!”
Another soldier yelled to a group of onlookers at Writer Square: “We’re bringing home to Denver what the occupation looks like.”
A group of about 25 police officers stood by and moved with the group as it performed skits on the city sidewalks. The police and “soldiers” never clashed.
Occasionally an RTD bus would stop along the mall and the soldiers would hop aboard, pivoting inside with an invisible rifle at their shoulder, and yell to the annoyance or amusement of riders that the bus was secure.
A man at the front of the simulations yelled to the crowd that the protesters were not actors but actual veterans of the war in Iraq.
He also yelled: “The first casualty of war is the truth. Bring the troops home now!”
Fliers passed out by the soldiers said the U.S. occupation is unwanted by most Iraqi people. It said, “In order to survive daily missions, soldiers are taught to use brutal, dehumanizing search and seizure tactics.”
Rosemary Rafferty, a downtown office worker, sat smoking a cigarette on a sidewalk bench while soldiers conducted a simulation ” complete with frequent shouted expletives ” around her.
“It’s a bit different” than the usual downtown lunch hour, she said through a chuckle. “It’s just crowded. If I could have taken vacation (during the Democratic National Convention) I would have.”
She declined to take fliers being handed out by the protesters. But she wasn’t bothered by the in-your-face simulation.
“Everybody’s got their opinions, everybody’s got their rights,” said Rafferty, a Democrat. “And peaceful is good.”
As the commotion moved off to the next block, Rafferty breathed a sigh of relief that she could start enjoying her lunch hour.
“But again they have a point,” she said. “I have to agree. I don’t believe in war.”