No Sharp Objects/Gas Masks During Protests

Arapahoe County Enacts New Ordinance

No large sticks and no poles. Those are the rules approved Tuesday by the Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners for protesters surrounding the Democratic National Convention.

“As we were planning for our efforts toward the DNC it became obvious to us that this was a public safety gap that needed to be filled,” said Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson.

The ordinance makes it unlawful for anyone in unincorporated Arapahoe County who is involved in a demonstration, rally or picket line or similar public assembly to:

  • possess any metal, hard plastic or wood object that is sharpened or that exceeds the allowed dimensions set forth in the ordinance (no longer than 2 feet)
  • possess any type of projectile launcher
  • possess a gas mask

    Demonstrators said they understand the need for safety, but believe this ordinance goes too far.

    “A gas mask can never be used to hurt somebody, it is not an offensive thing,” said Glenn Spagnuolo with Recreate 68. “It can only be used to protect somebody from being injured.”

    “In the unlikely event that law enforcement would have to deploy chemical agents to either relocate or move an unruly or disruptive crowd,” said Sheriff Robinson. “Certainly anyone who has donned a gas mask would be counterproductive to our efforts.”

    But Spagnuolo said this ordinance is counterproductive to his free speech.

    “At these protests we use extremely large puppets to try to get across a political message and stuff,” said Spagnuolo. “The only way to hold those up are with poles and PVC piping and stuff like that. So now they want to try to minimalize the visual effect we would have.”

    “The issue is not that we have gone about our business to stop speech, this is truly a public safety ordinance,” said Sheriff Robinson.

    Sheriff Robinson said he anticipates protestors at several hotels in his county where delegates are staying during the convention.

    This ordinance only covers Arapahoe County, but both Spagnuolo and the sheriff anticipate the city and county of Denver will pass a similar law before august.

    Spagnuolo said he would fight any such ordinance in Denver.

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