Last month, under pressure from the A.C.L.U. lawsuit, the city released a list of expenses related to the convention showing that the police were preparing for large demonstrations and mass arrests and that the department had spent $2.1 million on protection equipment for its officers, $1.4 million for barricades and $850,000 for supplies related to the arrest and processing of suspects.
In disclosing the cost breakdown, city officials denied rumors that had circulated for weeks that they had contemplated buying exotic nonlethal weapons that fired an immobilizing goo, or that used radiation or sonic waves to incapacitate people or vehicles.
As the article makes clear, all of this over-the-top preparation is to contain political protestors—not to protect against a terrorist attack—even though authorities admit that there is no credible threat of either terrorism or violent protest.
The federal government is also sending Denver an additional $50 million for security, and while I’m not so naïve as to think that no additional security is required, my experience in New York in 2004 (coupled with the stories I have heard about Boston) tells me that all this extra muscle will encourage authorities to err on the side of imagined security while actively suppressing the First Amendment rights of many protesters and passers-by.