National Catholic Register


Denver Protest

Pro-Lifers Outnumber Others At Democratic National Convention

BY Wayne Laugesen


September 7-13, 2008 Issue | Posted 9/2/08 at 12:23 PM


DENVER — You’ve heard the news from the convention floor. Chances are, you didn’t hear the news from outside the walls where the Democratic National Convention took place Aug. 25-28.

Radical leftist organizations, including one called Recreate 68, promised violence and mayhem. They planned to steal the show.

Instead, thousands of peaceful pro-life demonstrators managed to grab center stage outside the convention’s massive security perimeter and throughout metropolitan Denver. During four days of the convention, and for days leading up to it, mostly Catholic pro-life protesters from around the country chanted through megaphones, held signs and organized peaceful rallies.

“I’m heartsick that Barack Obama may become our next president,” said Heather Mechanic, a Catholic who flew from San Diego, Calif., to attend the event and spend subsequent days picketing the abortuary. “When we have politicians who defend the murder of our children, it destroys hope. I’m here because of my commitment to Jesus Christ, who stood for life.”

On Tuesday morning, millions of people visiting and living along Colorado’s Front Range awoke to a giant pro-life message on North Table Mountain, west of Denver in Golden, Colo., that said: “Destroys uNborn Children” (see photo, page 2). The words were stacked in order to emphasize the yellow letters “DNC,” which stand for both Democratic National Committee and Democratic National Convention.

Protester Arrests

Though no pro-life protesters made the news for violence, 13 pro-life protestors were arrested for sitting down to block the entrance of the Denver Convention Center, not far from the perimeter surrounding the Pepsi Center. They included the Catholic leader of Operation Rescue and two priests.

Throngs of cops in heavy riot gear were visible at all times and places throughout Denver during the convention, often with rifles drawn. They stared down all organized anti-war protests, but generally had a hands-off approach to pro-life demonstrations.

A YouTube video, however, shows police using what may be excessive force in the arrest of two pro-life teenagers, ages 15 and 17, who were chalking the sidewalk outside the Westin Hotel where Barack Obama was staying. Jayne White, 17, and Julia Giacopussi, 15, both of Lake Arrowhead, Calif., had permission from Denver City Attorney David Fine to chalk sidewalks. On Wednesday of the convention, they were hauled away by police, along with the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition based in Washington, D.C.

“I was peacefully sidewalk chalking when I was forcefully pushed to the ground by a police officer from behind,” White told Christian Newswire. “As I was being cuffed on the ground, the police officer pushed his knee into the back of my neck. I was pulled roughly off the ground and taken away.”

All three were released that day.

Standing for Life

One could not walk through any part of central Denver without frequently encountering pro-life demonstrators, such as Knights of Columbus member Rick Dugan. He and a group of fellow Knights ventured to Denver from the Midwest to drag one of several giant wooden crosses around the city; each cross weighed more than 100 pounds.

Dugan explained that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to pay for sin. Nothing, he said, could be more sinful than the pro-abortion platform of Obama and the Democratic National Convention.

One event alone — organized by the Archdiocese of Denver’s Respect Life and Black Catholic Ministry offices, in conjunction with the Denver Ministerial Alliance, an organization of black ministers — drew an estimated 5,000 pro-life demonstrators to Denver’s Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Monday evening. The park, in a mostly black neighborhood, is a half block from the largest abortion business in the United States: Denver’s new 52,000-square-foot Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, which opened July 1.

Mike Winter attended the Monday rally, and as a member of Denver’s Risen Christ parish, he has been picketing Denver abortion clinics every week for years. Winter hands fliers to customers of abortion businesses, who are mostly young girls. The fliers tell them about maternal support organizations, such as Denver’s Maternity of Mary Maternity Home.

“This saves about 100 babies a year,” Winter said. “This facility [in its old building] has been conducting about 5,000 abortions per year. But if we can save only one, it’s worth doing this.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s niece, Alveda King, was among the speakers at Monday night’s rally, and she wasn’t surprised by the overwhelming bustle of pro-life activity in Denver for the convention. She told the crowd that abortion is emerging as the new civil rights movement, as evidenced by the showing in Denver.

Indeed, as pro-life protesters had a cohesive message and a professional presentation, anti-war and radical environmental activists couldn’t seem to coordinate chants or comprehensible slogans on signs. Large crowds mostly just stared quietly at small armies of riot police watching their every move.

Winter explained that more people are beginning to link Planned Parenthood with its founder, eugenicist Margaret Sanger, who founded the Negro Project to reduce black reproduction in the United States.

“They build in black neighborhoods like this to target the babies of minorities,” Winter said. “This is becoming increasingly clear, and it is rather obvious that the momentum is building.”

The massive new abortion business is adjacent to the Renaissance Hotel near the old Stapleton International Airport, which housed hundreds of Barack Obama delegates. As delegates came and went from the hotel all week, pro-life demonstrators politely explained their belief that Planned Parenthood facilitates genocide of unborn minorities.

Planned Parenthood of the Rockies did not return multiple phone calls, nor did the national headquarters of Planned Parenthood. A Register correspondent asked an armed guard outside Denver’s new vaulted Planned Parenthood facility to ask spokeswoman Leslie Durgin, or another official inside, for a response to the demonstrations. The guard returned and said the organization’s official statement is “No comment.”

Durgin is a former mayor of Boulder, Colo.

Alan Keyes Takes Action

In addition to King, other speakers at the Monday rally included Alan Keyes, a black Catholic who was trounced by Obama in his 2004 Illinois race for the Senate. Keyes is running today as the official candidate of the Independent Party.

While protesting at Martin Luther King Jr. Park Monday, Keyes noticed Planned Parenthood guards taking large pro-life signs that had been leaned against the outside of the facility’s giant steel security fence.

“He saw them taking the signs inside the building, and he ran onto the property and began pulling the signs away from the guards,” said Donna Ballentine, office manager for Colorado Right to Life. “They were stealing our signs, and he used what looked like Herculean strength to rip them out of their hands. It was absolutely amazing.”

Keyes reportedly argued with guards and Planned Parenthood officials to give back the other signs, which had already been taken into the facility. He prevailed: The signs were returned.

“He said they couldn’t take the signs just because they were leaned against a fence,” Ballentine said. “He just knew what to say. He said it was like taking some child’s bicycle, just because he leaned it against a fence along a sidewalk.”

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput also addressed the crowd, as well as the Rev. Willard Johnson, pastor of Macedonia Baptist, a black church near the new abortion business.

“The message of the event was to bring awareness about the agenda of Planned Parenthood, which is building abortuaries in minority neighborhoods,” said Mimi Eckstein, director of the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of Denver.

“Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist,” Eckstein said. “Her agenda is being carried out today with these clinics in minority neighborhoods. People are seeing this, finally.”

At the end of the convention, pro-lifers had made their message clear.

Enyart noted, “Even the Denver Post has said that the most organized and significant protest message at the convention has been the pro-life message.”

Wayne Laugesen filed this report from the Democratic National Convention.