Thursday, August 28, 2008

Open Letter to the DNC

It is now approximately 1226am. I attempted to leave Invesco 15 minutes before the end of Obama's speech due to concerns about being able to get out. Why? Well my trip going to Invesco was soooo fun. There were supposed to be free shuttle buses at specified pick-up points due to security for those with the Community Credentials (average folk). So I went to one of those pick-up points and guess what - no shuttle bus. I spoke to some people in the crowd and we flagged down a taxi to drop us off as close to the entrance of Invesco as possible. We were re-rerouted to a location far far away, over a back alley, down a dirt mound, around the huge parking lot to one check point that combined with the other location so two groups of people had to enter one person at a time. Did I mention the people who decided to jump down the side of a hill and try to skip ahead? Or the people who said they were Press so they could push past us? Or an elderly woman walking with a cane and her granddaughter where no one offered to assist her with a go-cart? That said checkpoint that snaked around one side of Invesco to the other then required an entrance that took you back over half the same route just on the other side of the fence they'd erected?

Ok, ok. I was trying to remind myself to be grateful. I wanted to go to Denver to attend the Convention after all. I really wanted to see Obama in person as he gave his nomination acceptance speech and those tickets were oh so coveted! Thanks CH by the way for the hook-up! It's just that it was the hottest time of day and despite all the water I had before arriving and the bottle I had with me that altitude difference made me feel as if someone's hand was pressing against my chest and I was getting dizzy. I still had about 1/2 mile to go to get to the checkpoint and I was ready to give up. I had to call for assistance.

So I finally get inside and it took about 2 hours. So I made sure to drink more water and eat even though I wasn't hungry. I was in a general admission area towards the top tier. Man they don't call it Mile High stadium for nothing. I knew that once I found a seat I was not budging until the end. Looking down gave me a sensation of experiencing vertigo. But hey I was THERE! FINALLY! And as soon as the sun went down I knew I could relax a bit more. Except for the people acting like 5 year olds with their musical chairs antics I was really trying to focus on the entertainment and speeches.

Jennifer Hudson delivered with her rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner". Of course Will.I.Am would make an appearance - his song helped fuel a movement. Sheryl Crow was perfunctary and off-key a lot. Stevie Wonder should've played longer and you guys should have bounced a few of the bland speeches. I did like the support of military officers though I don't want the US promoting more colonialization and occupying countries. And by the way...where was President Carter?

So Obama comes on and and I can barely hear him. The side of the stadium half of us are sitting in has poor sound quality. Didn't anybody check this? The speakers were turned away from us. So I was getting increasingly aggravated because I knew I was gonna have to watch it on the teevee. Which kinda defeated a portion of my time, purpose and expense for coming to Denver in the first place. Oh well. I tried.

So I thought I should leave before 75,000 + people all fight their way out. I missed the last 15 minutes, but there's parties to attend, people to meet and it's a celebration, baby! I exit but see no buses except for a section at another gate to my far left. So I hop to it and I specifically ask about getting back to downtown Denver. I am promptly told those buses are for delegates. I ask where the buses are for the non-delegates. Gate 10. Which by the way is on the opposite side of the entire building. Ok. I ask an actual employee who tries to be so helpful and he says their hands were tied by the Secret Service. If it had been a event like a Broncos game he could've had me outta there in less than 5 minutes. I ask a police officer who knows nothing. I walk and walk and walk some more but by this time there's a massive crowd of people. I make it Gate 9 and see Gate 10 is just around the corner...but it's blocked off and we have to exit one area that fits maybe 5 people at a time. We have to go around an indirect route. But I see Walter Moseley stride past me. Ah I see buses.

Buses for the press. Buses for people at specific hotels that are West, North, South and East of Denver. I ask several workers milling around. Where's our buses? The area adjacent to gate 10 has about 5,000 people trying to get out at the same time. The police have the main road that takes you back to the light rail - albiet it's about a mile's walk away - blocked. There's an empty parking lot that fits, like 5-6 people because there's a guy standing there blocking large groups from being able to pass. We are like cows in a field and literally not moving. Some people are pushing their way in the opposite direction from where we're going telling us it's a dead end and we won't be able to get out. I see two Secret Service agents- they're all dressed as 'Security' and ask him for help. He tells me he doesn't know and he doesn't live here. Well, gee neither do I and thanks! Yup I yelled at him. I think he was the 10th person I'd spoken to by this time. I decide to take matters into my own hands and call 911. I was hoping a police officer outside of this zoo might be able to offer some assistance.

I mean the city advertised these shuttles and how they were supposed to be available since they blocked access in any other way humanly possible to the regular folk. I was told to be patient and they wouldn't just leave people without transportation. Ha! People decided to take matters into their hands by pushing out a section of fencing. It was dangerous though because it wasn't that well-lit, there was a 4 ft cement block anchoring it and it led to an underpass. Again I saw elderly people trying to get out and NO ONE WAS HELPING THEM. Nobody knew anything, nobody had any answers, you are shit outta luck sucker for coming here. Be prepared to walk for miles back to civilization. Do you think I would've come if I'd known in advance I'd be walking the length of Invesco nearly 10 times? Sure it's a great form of exercise...but that doesn't make it convenient or fun! Sooooo after all of this someone says the buses are in Lot J - which is on the opposite side of Gate 10. Sigh. A few of us flag a police officer in a golf cart we swing around the side of the building and wind up back at Gate 4.

Gate 4. The same place I'd started at 1.5 hours ago. I can't believe it. I am also concerned because some idiot said I didn't have the credentials to use the shuttles when I started on this crack-pot adventure. Soooo I see a blogger I'd met at the Big Tent and feel somewhat assured we will not have problems getting on a bus. As it turns out these were the only buses that took you back. That magical gate 10 pick-up did not exist apparently. So there's a few numbered routes per some other attendees and we need Route 1 or 2. So I get in a line and we wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. There are people in wheelchairs and mobility vehicles. The buses I see are not wheelchair accessible. And we wait and wait. There's several lines all over the parking lot with no order to them. We see a half-empty bus leave. We see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 buses just drive past us. Where's the staff? We outnumber them 40 to 1. One person tells us a specific bus will be ours. It drives by us and goes down the lot to another group and a police officer tells us his group of people have been waiting a long time and are getting on ahead of us. Say what? Did I mention the other line of people to our left had tried to run in front of the bus so they could get on it and one guy dares to say we'd been standing in line for only 10 minutes. I had to tell him to shut up...but not so nicely.

Sorry but I was thirsty, cranky and by this time very cold. A kind woman let me get in line ahead of her so I could get on that bus. Did I mention the number of people between 45-60 were standing for more than an hour? And the disabled people? I mean this is a 3-ring circus. Without the cotton candy and fun. When we FINALLY got going and left Invesco we all cheered. So many people were shaking their heads and commenting how inept and redundant the organization is and how the experience was like slamming Obama's moment onto the cement. I see it as severe incompetance. I was sooo disappointed and I still had to get a taxi after getting off this shuttle. It only dropped people in the vicinity of the main hotels. So my question is this: were you trying to ruin our evening for us? Do think it is reasonable that it took me nearly 4 hours to get back to my destination? Where were the people in CHARGE? I suspect they high-tailed it outta there to go party. Well that's no way to run yours. It makes your candidate look bad to boot. So I have to wonder......


Ginny said...

I am relieved to hear you survived the night at Invesco, even though it sounds like it was torture for you. I am the woman who, along with my husband, shared the cab with you out to that spot in the middle of nowhere. That night back at our delegation hotel we met a woman who had spent four hours in line to get into Invesco and many who who wandered for hours to find their way home. It was a zoo for sure!
But a woman we ran into in the winding rows approaching the security tent put it all in perspective for us when she reminded us of the hardships the marchers on Washington had faced 45 years ago. Thursday morning on NPR there had been a story of whitefolk locking up their daughters in fear of them being raped by the marchers.
What a lovely contrast that instead we were there white and Black nominating our first bi-racial candidate for President.
Faith, it was a pleasure to share a few moments of that day with you and I hope that all the hardship of it can be wiped from your memories and that the beauty of that night instead can shine through for you. Blessings on you! Ginny

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Ah Ginny,

Thanks for that cab ride and speaking with you and your husband was a highlight of my day. I'm hoping some distance will calm my frayed nerves and disappointment over the logistical problems that occurred. I was hoping for a euphoric experience and what I got was reality. I am very meticulous and hate being unprepared or dealing with others dropping the ball like that. I would have organized things differently and I definitely would have set aside an entrance for people with mobility needs. Those that marched for inclusion had a different purpose in mind and I would not compare what was supposed to be fun for the sacrifices that people had to make so I could have that choice to make today, but I appreciate your thoughts. Glad to know you made it as well!