If you could find the Free Speech Zone, what would you say?

The Free speech zone at the 2008 Denver convention was a lot harder to get to than I thought. As I was crossing a street, a guy in plain clothes with a coiled wire stuck in his ear asked me where I was going. Did I look lost? As a matter of fact, I had just heard about something called “tent city” where there was a lot of free speech going on.

I found out later there was a huge event going near Confluence Park, but this guy directed me the other direction, up a dead end sidewalk. Three wheeled bicycle taxis, the kind they have in New Delhi, were carrying passengers with plastic identification credential cards hung around their necks. Everyone else was walking.

After twenty minutes or so, I arrived at a very controlled entrance. Only the people with the credentials were getting past that point.

A conversation with another security person directed me further along the sidewalk. Turn at Seventh street and go to Auraria, he said.

After another twenty minutes or so of walking, I found myself alone in the middle of nowhere, and there it was. The cage.

Only a 360 degree view made possible by the miracle of YouTube can do it justice:

I checked the speaker’s schedule, and by some streak of luck, it was my turn to speak. (Yes, it’s full size in case you want to download it and zoom in to read…. J. Stalin’s topic: “This is awesome”; A. Hitler’s topic: “I agree completely.” )

My words of wisdom, spoken across the empty, unbroken expanses of concrete? “El corazon tiene razones que no tienen razon.”

The silence was deafening.


One Response to “If you could find the Free Speech Zone, what would you say?”

  1. robert Says:

    I am completing a doctoral dissertation at the University of Colorado Denver College of Architecture and Planning entitled “The Judicial Interpretation of Campus Place.” The dissertation is on campus architecture as locations of federal public forum court cases. I would like to use the photgraphs of the Free Speech Zones at the Denver Democratic Convention. I found several photgraphs at the Camel’s Nose website. account. I would like to obtain permission from you to print the photographs on the FSZ.

    The requested permission extends to any future revisions and editions of my dissertation, including non-exclusive world rights in all languages, and to the prospective publication of my dissertation by UMI. These rights will in no way restrict republication of the material in any other form by you or by others authorized by you. Your approval in this e-mail will also confirm that you own the copyright to the above-described material.

    If these arrangements meet with your approval, please respond in this e-mail by return e-mail. Thank you very much.I will included in the caption “photograph courtesy of Nijma” if you grant permission.
    Robert Wonnett

    A brief outline of my research.

    I analyze the content of public forum judicial opinions (54 judicial opinions) to identify how federal judges interpret physical campus locations in their public forum analysis. This research is supplemented by a photographs and analysis of the form, use, and meaning place attributes of the campus locations in the federal law. This research approach of analyzing the contents of public forum judicial opinion supplemented by a place analysis on a physical location expands on the legal research of the public forum as a constitutional construction of campus place. I explore the concept of the public forum as a negotiated landscape that reflects the socio-spatial concepts as well as a legal landscape in contemporary society.

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