Posted at 6:25 PM on August 28, 2008
by Bob Collins
Even with a major security challenge hours away, you could feel Denver exhaling a bit on Thursday afternoon. Nothing significant had gone wrong, the protests in the city had, for the most part, failed to tarnish the city, and within a few hours, everyone would be gone and the city would have its city back.
On Wednesday afternoon, this roaming band of quick-response cops (my colleague, Nancy Lebens calls them the Denver version of the Vulcans) was still in high-alert mode. They'd park on a street, and the officers wouldn't get off. They'd just stand there and be ready to go.
But by Wednesday night, they were letting protesters take their picture with them.
All over town, the body language of the police was "it's over," even though it wasn't.
Some were even enjoying some of the sideshows on the 16th Avenue Mall, something that wasn't happening earlier in the week.
I talked to one officer from Arvada, Colorado who said the police in the area were glad to have St. Paul hosting the back-end of this political convention doubleheader. "All the protesters have to get out of town to get up to St. Paul," he told me. "They can hang around your city for awhile after the convention, but they're getting out of here."
Which means, he says, the homeless people can come back. Many of them were shipped up to his city, given tickets to movies and provided shelter, anything to get them out of the place in the city where they congregate most -- the 16th Avenue Mall.
The Mall is the retail core of the convention. It's Obama, Inc. Anyone who can make a buck with Obama-themed merchandise, is trying to make a buck.
Obama and McCain flip-flops were the featured item. Obama on the left. McCain on the right.
By mid-afternoon, the line to get into Invesco Field had snaked back and forth more than a mile from the stadium...
... as hundreds more streamed up from the city's downtown.
By Friday afternoon, they'll be gone. The protesters, and most of the media will head toward St. Paul for the Republican National Convention, unless Tropical Storm Gustav intervenes.