When Mike Polinsky got to Denver to report the Democratic National Convention to his Philadelphia, Penn.-based independent newspaper, The Defenestrater, he had no clue what his angle was.
All he had was a place to stay with a bunch of anarchists who own a concert venue, a sleeping bag, pen and notepad.
The venue he stayed at while trying to get his angle down was a little hole-in-the-wall in downtown Denver called Rhinoceropolis on Brighton and 36th Avenue. It’s regularly filled with kids just out of high school looking to get laid. And he liked them.
“[Last night], we were up all night drinking whiskey sours and singing folk songs,” Polinski told the Collegian Thursday.
Little did he know, the group, called Recreate ’68, would become his story.
Polinsky, a 20-year-old journalism student from Temple University followed his new found friends around Denver as they protested the two-party system that they say is the reason for the dissatisfactory political state of the U.S.
The Defenestrator identifies as an anarchist-leaning information forum — the perfect outlet for a reporter that wants the scoop on an underground project like Recreate ’68’s “disruption” of the DNC.
But reporting their project was not easy because, he said, paranoia and distrust of the media — no matter the publication’s social views — is rife in a society that goes under the radar to break down social barriers.
When he called their headquarters, which they call the “convergence zone,” from Philadelphia and identified himself as a reporter hoping to gain access to their meetings, they wouldn’t let him even though his paper identified with their movement.
After following them around for a week, documenting their protest scenes and eventually getting into their clandestine meetings, he’s not sure how he feels about their plight.
“It seems like they need to let people in, especially indie media,” he said. “It seems like they could trust me.”
“If I were going to the [Republican National Convention], I don’t know if I would go as a reporter or an anarchist,” he said.
He loves the group’s passion for social issues and making their voice heard, but he doesn’t agree with their exclusive tactics that leave the moderate minds on the outs.
“I really want to paint the protesters in a positive light and show that they’re not crazy, radical kids,” he said. “[But] if you want to have a social revolution, you can’t disassociate an entire population.”
When Polinsky arrived in Denver, he didn’t know what to expect, but the first day showed him the emotion behind the convention.
The first time he walked the 16th Street Mall he saw a Christian protester yelling at a female passerby for being a woman.
“He said, ‘I’ve got one word for you: kitchen — just get back in the kitchen,'” Polinsky said. “It was very emotional for me. I was on the verge of tears.”
News Managing Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.