Aug 052008

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper put the brakes on the free speech wagon – and he’s done it with a camping ban.

Later this month, thousands will be traveling to Colorado for the Democratic National Convention to make their voices heard, just as anti-war protestors involved in Tent State University had intended to do.

Tent State, a group of college-aged activists, had planned to bring as many as 50,000 protestors with them to the DNC this month. Their organization had also planned to use City Park as camping grounds as a means to motivate a crowd of that size to show up.

This year marks the first in 100 that the DNC will be held in Denver. As one of the premier political events in the world, it is key for protestors to be able to freely access public arenas to promote their causes.

By not allowing camping at City Park or Civic Center Park, protestors will now face the challenge of finding rooms in hotels that have been overbooked for months.

While Denver has never allowed camping in the parks, it is not typical that it is given the opportunity to host what many are calling the biggest political event the U.S. has ever seen. Concerns that attendees will view camp sites as a free boarding pass are feeble at best as the real concern should be how best to allow as many involved citizens to participate as possible.

And while sanitation, security, bathroom availability and parking for crowds are valid issues, Denver could afford to spend more time looking into how to successfully overcome them rather than assuming the aforementioned are too large to surmount.

The city should appreciate the success of its bid, remove its irresponsibly placed restriction and stop worrying about the park’s grass.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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