what really happened at the St. Paddy's Day Parade
- Here's an insiders account about what really happened at the St. Paddy's Day Parade, a letter that was published in the Gazette on Sunday. We should all be raising this with our elected officials. Such brutal treatment by the CSPD is totally unacceptable, and someone needs to resign or be reprimanded.Cyndy
Justice and Peace Commission still waiting for both
As Acting Director of the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, I am called to forward our principal values — justice and peace — and now, because of recent misleading Gazette articles, I need to add a third: truth.
The truth is that our peace walkers in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade never had any intention to cause disruption. We were not “parade crashers,” as The Gazette’s March 20 Our View claimed.
In the spirit of the day we wore green T-shirts, assembled well ahead of time with our permit-bearing parade unit (The Bookman entry), and walked out into the street when the parade marshal directed us. We were parents with children, people with pets (green-vested), teenagers, Iraq war veterans, teachers, students, Catholic sisters, Protestant clergy, blacks, whites and many retired seniors. We walked along, smiling and waving to appreciative onlookers. We carried signs saying “Peace” and “Kids not Bombs,” but nothing inflammatory. It was all done happily, peaceably, “decently and in order.”
The truth is that we were suddenly being told, without explanation, to leave the parade. Thirty-five of us obliged. Those who did not understand asked, “Why must we leave? We have a paid permit to be here. What is different this year than when we walked in 2006?”
We were not given a reason but, instead, were treated by the police in an unnecessarily harsh physical manner. People were yelled at and shoved to the side. One retiree was grabbed by the throat and pulled to the curb. Our PPJPC president and parade permit-holder was jerked from his van, put on the ground, kneed in his back, handcuffed and left in the street, his children crying. A handicapped older woman was pulled down and dragged across the pavement, causing severe lacerations (hardly “a rugburn,” as the editorial said).
One 75-year-old woman, concerned for her friend on the ground, was handcuffed roughly, causing forearm bruises. Another 65-year old woman had her arm so twisted she had to have it X-rayed. Our guest speaker of the weekend was put in a wrenching choke hold. A Taser gun was fired. And it’s all documented on camera.
All we wanted to do was say, “Give Peace a Chance,” but the parade officials and police responded to such a message aggressively.
So now there are questions about violations of constitutional rights and questions about excessive police behavior. Sadly, it is quite reminiscent of the tear gassing by the police four years ago. There is loss of trust in officials of our city.
Two thousand years ago this day, Palm Sunday, Jesus wept over his city and cried, “O, Jerusalem, would that you knew the things that make for peace, but now they are hid from your eyes.”
The truth is, he still weeps, “O, Colorado Springs, would that . . . .”
Rev. James W. White
Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission
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