It’s strange being activated in my own city, and I am distressed when I think of why it has happened. Basically, the governor has put us on standby in case the Denver Police Department needs to call us in for additional support should things get too rowdy during the DNC. I feel like I am sitting on both sides of the fence on the issue. On the one hand, I am a Guardsman and my duty is to protect the state. On the other, I am politically passionate, and there is a large part of me that would much rather be downtown protesting during the DNC.
Being in the middle, I find myself wanting to explain the virtues of both sides to the other. I try to explain to my friends who will be down protesting that the Colorado National Guard is not acting as part of some martial law, military rule to suppress people’s first amendment rights. What it comes down to is that we are here to respond to people who are acting violently, IF the DPD requests our support.
Violence is not one of our rights as American citizens. Neither is destruction of property. Not only are they not protected, but it’s not an effective way of making a political point. It boggles the mind that anyone would want to employ these tactics to try and accomplish anything. Yet, despite this, a captain brought in a publication by professed “protesters” today that outright said “Yes, we will be employing violent tactics to disrupt the DNC.”
What the hell? Why would you do that? Why would you want to hurt other people? And that violence is just going to beget more violence, and then the National Guard is far more likely to be called out. By perpetrating acts of violence, it’s like they’re asking for the “military rule” they claim to oppose.
Because of this sort of thing, many Guardsmen have formed the impression that all of the protesters aren’t actually coming down here to make a political statement, but only to make trouble. Honestly, it’s not hard to see how they formed this impression. Many of these people stating they are going to do something violent have flown in from out of state. I guess its okay for them to destroy a city if they don’t have to live in it. And these people, by the nature of what they are saying, are far more vocal than the pacifist organizations who are going down there to make a political statement through the constitutionally protected right of protest. Violence just gets more press than pacifism does, its bad press, yes, but the violent people don’t care. It’s like all they’re interested in is destruction and attention.
But I know that the pacifist organizations outnumber the violent ones, and I try to explain that to my fellow guardsmen who think that all the protesters are just looking for trouble. It is terribly unfortunate that these violent individuals give such a bad name to the ones that are real protesters. And I worry that the real protesters won’t be heard.
And I worry that people are going to get hurt, both Guardsmen and protesters.
And I worry that my beloved city is going to get torn up.
The bottom line is that the Guard won’t be called to support the DPD if nothing violent happens. If everyone exercises their right to peaceably assemble, there will be no need for us. We will just sit in our locations until the DNC is over, and when it is over, we’ll all go home. Where is home for the National Guard? We’re your neighbors and coworkers and classmates. We go to your church, our children play with yours at the playground.
We are citizens of Colorado. We are residents of Denver, Aurora, Lakewood, Grand Junction, Brighton, Littleton, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Castle Rock, Fort Collins, Evergreen, Pueblo, Greeley, Golden, Alamosa and every other town and city.
We are democrats and republicans and greens and libertarians and independents. We are Christians and Muslims and Jews and atheists and Pagans and Hindus. We are fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters.
We respond when the lives and property of our fellow citizens are in peril. We rescue stranded motorists in blizzards. We fight forest fires. We aid the police department with riot control, no matter who starts the riots.
We just want to keep our city safe and to protect the rights of those who come to assemble peaceably by stopping the violent acts that threaten peaceful protesters.
National Guardsmen are no more military rulers than peaceful protesters are violent rioters. I wish my peers on both sides of the fence focused their attention onto the real enemy; violent rioters.
Anyway, the mayor still maintains they’re not even going to use us.
Guess my baby stats!
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