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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 19, 20174min391
Several hundred protesters rally against ‘school choice’ policies pushed by the conservative ALEC organization ahead of ALEC’s meeting in Denver on Wednesday July 19, 2017. (Peter Marcus/ColoradoPolitics.com)

A few hundred protesters gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday to protest school choice policies pushed by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.

Standing on the west steps of the Capitol, activists – led by teachers’ unions – held signs that read, “Vouchers = Theft,” with anti-U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos photos on them.

Some also held large cutout headshots of Republican state lawmakers who support charter schools and voucher programs, despite some pieces of legislation in the Colorado legislature this year around equal funding for charter schools being bipartisan efforts.

The rally came ahead of an annual ALEC meeting in Denver, where DeVos is scheduled to speak along with other conservative leaders, including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. DeVos and Zinke are scheduled for Thursday.

“Why would you take money from the less affluent to give to those who can already afford to buy their education in their positions,” said JoZi Martinez, a Denver Public Schools teacher and local activist. “Leave public education to the experts, we the teachers and the administrators.

“This is not a monarchy and you clearly are not a queen, Ms. DeVos.”

Several state Democratic elected officials also spoke at the rally, including those who are running for higher office. State Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, who is running for attorney general, has become a well-known figure in the activist community.

“Once it’s taken from you, then you no longer have power, and that is what’s happening here,” Salazar said, suggesting that there is a push to deny public education to low-income and minority communities.

“What you need to do is not just resit but become the opposition to what is happening,” Salazar continued. “Don’t just rally – vote!”

Also speaking at the rally was state Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, who is one of three Democrats hoping to replace U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada, in the 7th Congressional District. Following the rally, Kerr marched with protesters to a hotel in downtown Denver where the ALEC conference was taking place.

“My position as a state senator is what gives me the opportunity to address you here today, but my opposition to Betsy DeVos has little to do with being a state senator, and has everything to do with being a dad and a teacher,” Kerr said, who taught social studies.

“I know that Donald Trump and Secretary DeVos are a disaster for our schools.”


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 24, 20175min243

Denverite informs us Colorado has posted the third-highest cumulative attendance rate at political protests thus far during the Trump presidency. Only Vermont (really?) and the District of Columbia (naturally) rank higher.

By hard numbers: Colorado has had about 33 demonstrators per 1,000 residents. Vermont had 40 and D.C. 1,324 (again, no surprise there).

Denverite’s Megan Arellano credits the data to Count Love, which, according to its website, tracks, “Demonstrations and protests for respect, love, and the earth.”

By its very nature, attempting to systematically account for, quantify and rank something as nebulous as political rallies and demonstrations might meet with harrumphs of skepticism among hardboiled statisticians. Nevertheless, Count Love seems to approach its subject seriously enough. The two guys behind it are accomplished geeks — one’s a Ph.D. engineer via MIT and the other is a doctoral candidate in neuroscience at Boston University. So, they are smarter than (most of) us.

Here’s their methodology:

We crawl local newspaper and television sites on a daily basis, and most of our event data come from these crawls. Our initial data for the Women’s Marches came from the Crowd Counting Consortium, and our initial leads for the travel ban rallies came from an article at ThinkProgress entitled, “Here’s your list of all the protests happening against the Muslim Ban”. For our visualizations, we draw maps using OpenStreetMap data, CARTO tiles and Leaflet.

They do indeed have some cool maps and other diagrams charting protests around the country. Check ’em out.

So, why does Colorado rank near the top of the chart in its protest performance? What is it about the Centennial State? Pols, pundits and political scientists across the spectrum probably could debate that one endlessly. And would. But that might be boring.

How about some more ordinary (and realistic) factors, like how we’re a destination state? Everyone wants to come here anyway for all the reasons that make Colorado what it is — sunshine, winter sports, craft beers, general hipness; you know the drill — so they might as well march for a cause they believe in, too.

Which for us raises another question: How many out-of-staters were among those who have participated in the many marches and rallies at downtown Denver’s Civic Center Park and nearby Capitol grounds since January? There’s probably no data out there on that, yet (maybe Count Love could tweak its app to collect it).

The question arises because there is said to be a growing trade in cannabis tourism to Colorado, so perhaps our state is worthy of at least a cottage industry in political tourism, as well.

Maybe it’s not just The Donald who’s driving it all, either. We’d wager that even after the Trump administration has faded into the pages of Wikipedia, people still will want to travel here to hoist a protest placard in one hand so long as they can nurse an IPA (or a joint) in the other.

 


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John TomasicJohn TomasicMay 2, 20174min409

The May Day labor-rights demonstration at the Capitol in Denver was a modest, peaceful affair that brought out roughly 50 socialists, anarchists and Occupy movement members, some of whom wore black masks and waved red flags in solidarity with anti-capitalist or anti-worker, anti-immigrant labor abuse they said was on the uptick in the United States around the world. "I think it's obvious that something has to change for real people," said one of the protesters.



Peter MarcusPeter MarcusFebruary 17, 20177min263
The “day without immigrants” protest saw lackluster participation in Colorado, but it still served to shine a light on heart-wrenching stories as the Trump administration continues its crackdown. The act of banding together to strike on Thursday was a sign of solidarity. The immigrant community has come under attack as the Trump administration seeks to […]

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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinFebruary 14, 20179min341

Protests, email and letter writing campaigns targeted at members of Congress and packed town hall meetings have seemingly become the norm since Donald Trump assumed the presidency. Opposition is nothing new to anyone who's sat in the Oval Office — or in any elected office for that matter — and tried to carry out new policies and change what seems to be an unchangeable bureaucracy. Still, the level of that opposition seems more vocal, more amped up than at any time in perhaps decades. Millions marched on Washington, D.C, the day after Trump took the oath of office as the 45th president. Thousands marched in opposition to abortion and hundreds of people have attended town hall meetings in Colorado and other states, voicing opposition to issues such as changing or repealing the Affordable Care Act, Trump's executive orders related to immigration from certain Muslim-dominated countries and building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.


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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinFebruary 13, 201710min347

Congressional offices in Colorado and across the nation have been flooded with emails, social media messages and calls that jammed phone lines. Hundreds of protesters flocked to town halls and congressional offices, some in strongly Republican districts, to voice their opposition to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks, plans to change or repeal Obamacare and refugee restrictions. The goal of organizers of some of the efforts, according to a recent Associated Press story, is nothing short of complete resistance. It’s a strategy learned from the success of the tea party movement, which stymied President Barack Obama’s agenda through protests, door-to-door campaigns and online activism. Trump and some Republicans shrug off the protests and marches as sore losers unwilling to accept the results of last fall's election. The Associated Press story noted the president’s core supporters, in states like Iowa and Wisconsin, applaud him as a man of action, delivering on his campaign promises to move quickly and shake up Washington.


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John TomasicJohn TomasicFebruary 9, 201710min322

The legislative session in Colorado has been running for a month. Donald Trump has been president for three weeks. The national political tumult that has marked the early days of the administration has resulted in a stream of public protest in the state and angry exchanges at the Capitol. Two weekends ago, the day after Inauguration Day, more than 100,000 Coloradans flooded Civic Center in Denver as part of the national women’s march for “human rights and equality,” as participants put it. The next weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, thousands of Coloradans poured into Denver International Airport to protest Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration.


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Clifford D. MayClifford D. MayAugust 11, 20169min276

Groucho Marx famously said he wouldn’t join any club that would have him as a member. Bernie Sanders last week turned that on its head, saying he wouldn’t remain a member of any party that wouldn’t have him as its leader. Sanders decided to become a Democrat only last year and only so he could seek the Democratic presidential nomination. He went on to wage an energetic and occasionally entertaining campaign. In the end, which came at the Democratic National Convention last week, he endorsed Hillary Clinton. The next day he told reporters he again considered himself an independent, not a Democrat.