'Free Speech Zones,' aka 'Freedom Cages,' at the DNC
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My first assignment at the DNC was to find a designated "free speech zone" aka a "freedom cage." Apparently, there are several around the Pepsi Center. This one is near the corner of 7th St. and Auraria Pkwy, in sight of an amusement park.
The cage is just a parking lot in the baking sun, surrounded by a fine-gauge metal fence.
Street protests are forbidden outside these zones. Every effort has been made to isolate the areas from public view. DNC organizers made a big deal out of the fact that protesters would be allowed to use the parade route.
A "parade route" sounds public, maybe even prominent. In fact, the march takes place inside a semi-opaque corridor of cyclone fencing. Where the cyclone gauge is wide enough to see through, the fencers added green mesh to block out the light. On one side of the corridor is the University of Colorado, which is closed to the public today. On the other side is the security zone around the Pepsi Center.
I followed a Falun Gong marching band through the corridor in the mid-day sun. Between the altitude and the heat, nobody was feeling very well by the time we arrived at the cage.