Police DNC T-Shirts Create Stir
Written by investigative reporter Brian Maass
E-mail DENVER (CBS4) — A tongue-in-cheek t-shirt poking fun at Democratic National Convention protestors is selling fast and creating some minor controversy along the way.
The shirts were created and distributed by the Denver Police Protective Association, the union that represents most of Denver’s 1,400 police officers.
The front of the black shirt shows the number “68″ with a slash through it. One of the primary protest groups at last month’s DNC in Denver called themselves “Recreate 68,” harkening back to the violent, 1968 political convention in Chicago.
The back of the shirt features a menacing-looking police figure, wearing what looks like a Denver police badge and helmet and clutching a baton. He’s looming over the city of Denver along with the slogan, “WE GET UP EARLY, to BEAT the crowds.” Also written across the back of the shirt is “2008 DNC.’
One CBS4 viewer, Seth Barnett, contacted the station to complain about the shirts, writing they “are a terrible representation of our city and its police.” Barnett, a 21-year-old college student, called the shirts “disrespectful,” saying they seemed “like a low blow.”
Barnett said he was appalled by the shirts and wrote Denver’s mayor and the police department to complain.
“I want an answer,” the Barnett wrote, “of why they take the harm of our citizens and guests as a joke.” He said he thinks the shirts are a poor representation of the city and its police force.
There were 154 protestors arrested during the August convention; many taken into custody following a Monday night melee with police along 15th Street.
The Denver police detective who produced the shirts, Det. Nick Rogers, says he has received no complaints until now. He said the shirts are being sold for $10 each at the Police Protective Association Offices.
Rogers, who is on the Board of the Police Protective Association, said the shirts were produced because police typically create commemorative shirts to mark big events like the DNC. He said the PPA will likely sell a couple thousand of the shirts. They went on sale following the convention and he said every Denver police officer was given one free. Beyond that, he said officers from other departments like Lakewood police and the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department have been clamoring for the shirts and have ordered dozens more. He said after the initial printing, there was so much demand he had to reorder more shirts.