By Eli Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 24, 2008; Page A06
DENVER — To the uninformed visitor, it has become difficult to tell whether Denver is preparing for a Democratic National Convention or the institution of martial law. Helicopters filled with armed commandos swooped over downtown in a training exercise earlier this summer. A warehouse was converted into a temporary jail with chain-link fences and signs threatening the use of electric stun devices. Travel agents sold getaway packages to locals, with one company imploring residents to “escape town while you still can.”
Hosting a convention necessitates preparing for the worst, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said, and his city has accomplished that with gusto. The possibility of protesters hurling buckets of feces? Denver proposed an ordinance to prevent it. The threat of crowd violence? The city spent $2.1 million on “personal protection equipment” for police.