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Twin Cities keep an eye on protests in Denver

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Activists Protest At DNC
Police detain and arrest several protesters near Civic Center Park after a disturbance with protesters resulted in several arrests during day one of the 2008 Democratic National Convention (DNC) on August 25, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The protest took place during the DNC's opening night speeches.
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The demonstrations began before the convention got underway. But Denver authorities ran into their first major problems with demonstrators last night. 

In the early evening the scene in and around a few blocks of Denver was growing more tense by the moment. 

Hundreds of demonstrators appeared to be in a standoff with hundreds of police officers. 

Activists Protest At DNC
Glenn Spagnuolo of Recreate 68 addresses the crowd as police and protesters are at a stand off after a disturbance between Civic Center Park and the Sheraton which resulted in several arrests during day one of the 2008 Democratic National Convention (DNC) on August 25, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The protest took place during the DNC's opening night speeches.
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Most of the protestors looked young, probably in their early 20's.  Some wore swimming goggles and makeshift gas masks fashioned from bandannas and other scraps of cloth.

Police officers clad  in heavy black armor and  sweating under their real gas masks stood in tight formation. They were armed with batons and other weapons.

In the end, officials say they arrested about 100 people for allegedly  blocking the street, disobeying lawful orders and interference.

Secret Service agent Malcolm Weiley, a leader of Denver's Joint Information Center, said officials were not surprised by demonstrator tactics. 

Activists Protest At Democratic National Conventio
The Denver Police Metro SWAT Team rolls into action in Civic Center Park during a disturbance with protesters resulting in several arrests during day one of the 2008 Democratic National Convention (DNC) on August 25, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The protest took place during the DNC's opening night speeches.
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Just like their counterparts in the Twin Cities, Weiley says officials in Denver have  been planning for months for how to handle scheduled, permitted demonstrations and other impromptu protests.   

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman took a break from his  Republican National Convention preparations in St. Paul to check in on the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Coleman declined to discuss what led to Monday's arrests, saying he didn't know enough about the situation. But Coleman did say he and others in Minnesota are closely watching how their counterparts in Denver are handling demonstrators. 

"There's no question that we are learning from what they're doing, but every community has got to police in the way that reflects their community, so we'll do things you know a St. Paul way, in a Minnesota way when folks come to our town," said Coleman.

Denver resident Cynthia Kemper is originally from Minnesota.  She and others in Denver had heard months of reporting about potential demonstrations. And when convention time came, Kemper was curious.

Activists at the DNC
An anti-war protester walks beside a mounted police patrol on the eve of the 2008 Democratic National Convention being held at the Pepsi Center August 24, 2008 in downtown Denver, Colorado. Security was heavy in the city ahead of the DNC where U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will be officially nominated as the Democratic nominee for the President of the United States.
John Moore/Getty Images

"I was one of those who said oh, let's go downtown," said Kemper.

Kemper took in the downtown scene on Sunday, the day the protests began.

She says Minnesotans are in for a surprise when they actually see what the police presence looks like on their streets, and she recommends checking it all out.

"I think it's real important for all of us to witness this first-hand and that not be afraid of it. But also it does give  you the awareness of what does take place at these conventions and the forces that are tense with one and other, and so we need to be aware of that as citizens of a nation that believes in free speech and believes in keeping or that there's a balance between the two and  so I think everyone should see it," said Kemper.

Anti-war protestors
Anti-war protestors march to the Pepsi Center, site of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, on August 24, 2008. The convention begins on August 25.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Mayor Coleman said efforts in St. Paul  to keep the balance between order and protest will likely be somewhat different  from Denver.  But Coleman declined to offer any specifics. 

"I think you'll just notice a difference in terms of how we're approaching it, in terms of how the officers are on the street and that.  You know, I'd rather not go into great detail  on how we're presenting, I just think you'll see a little bit different philosophy," said Coleman.

The RNC begins Monday in St. Paul. If the scene in Minnesota follows what  happened in Colorado, demonstrations will begin breaking out in the Twin Cities this weekend.