The Ryan Alford Blog: Things to do in Denver When You’re a Democrat

As promised, I am blogging about the Democratic National Convention. It hasn’t been all that eventful for me, unfortunately. I work downtown near 15th and Lawrence, a few blocks from the epicenter of DNC hell. Because I’ve been asked to work off-site for a project, I haven’t been near the action. In fact, I missed Joe Biden’s visit to our local BBQ place in Writer Square. Bummer. It would’ve been nice to see him in the flesh.

Here’s my DNC experience so far:

I had the opportunity to ride my bike from Broadway and 1st to the office on 15th and Lawrence. This is a pretty good ride – just about two miles one way. Once I entered the downtown area, the overall mood of the city changed instantly: People filled the sidewalks, each street corner had a cop standing guard, and the riot police were constantly on the go (see picture No. 1).

It was an interesting way to spend the afternoon. The sounds of sirens were constantly…uh…sirening. It was loud. Cabbies were speeding through the streets. Normally, taxis in Denver are parked near the hotels and are fighting for fares. They actually have work to do now. It’s as if Denver – for a fleeting week – has become New York City.

When walking my bike down 16th Street Mall (you can’t ride your bike or you’ll get ticketed) I was shoulder to shoulder with convention goers. They were everywhere – each with convention credentials around their necks. And buttons on their shirts. And agendas up their sleeves. It was amazing. Or at least I thought so.

So, I decided to give 20 minutes of my time to a wonderful woman – by the name of Rachel – representing the Human Rights Campaign. The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. I support that 100%! So, I had a great conversation with Michelle about equal rights in the work place, but it was also sad and disparaging. She mentioned many protestors have yelled at her and have said abusive things in regards to the Human Rights Campaign. Unbelievable.

And it continued. During our conversation, an elderly man carrying a sign that said “Abortion is Murder” decided to give us his two cents. I made the mistake of saying, “Well, sir, this election isn’t just about abortion. You know that, right?” I won’t get into the specifics, but that pissed him off. Whoops! Oh well.

I gave Rachel a good handshake and then moved on.

As I rode past 15th and Market Street, I noticed a crowd near the Sambuca Jazz Cafe. A limo was parked in front and a herd of suits flocked to the restaurant’s front doors. I was naturally curious, “What was going on?” I thought to myself. So, I asked the corner police officer if he knew what was going on. His response was less than respectful, “It’s a restaurant. It must be good. Why don’t you move along.”

Well, I certainly moved along. If you’re from Denver and you’ve watched the news of recent, you’ll understand that the Denver police department has been a little touchy with the city’s citizens. No problem, sir! I only hoped he would holster that four-foot long billy club and use it on a real law-breaking protestor or Fox News reporter.

This convention is for the people. And I get that kind of response from Denver’s finest? I posed no threat. In fact, I looked like a complete dork: I had my bike helmet on, business casual attire, backpack with computer, camera in hand and stupid look on my face.

I guess I expect too much.

When I visited Washington, D.C. in 2003, I ventured out and self-toured the path around the White House and snapped some photos. While doing so, the Secret Service decided to stop by. A black suburban pulled up behind me and a member of D.C.’s finest jumped out. He conveniently told me that the Vice President’s motorcade was about to drive off and I should take a photo. He did that purely for my information. I was alone that night, around 11 p.m., taking photos of the White House. I was treated with respect. I guess that made me feel hopeful, in some weird way.

Nonetheless, I understand Denver’s need for control and security. Fine with me. But, does that include treating the people like trash? I guess so. However, I took his advice and “moved along.”

I’ll be back tomorrow…moving along.