Police presence outside Democratic convention makes big impact on teen
Tyler Griffin didn't originally set out to make the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver part of his vacation, but when the chance came he took it.
'It was a coincidence,' said the 19-year-old college student from Lake Oswego. 'I was on vacation with my family in the Rockies. I was pretty excited when I found the convention was there.'
Griffin didn't get to go inside the Pepsi Center and hobnob with famous Democrats like Al Franken, much less Barack or Hillary. But while the delegates were cheering inside, Griffin was observing what was happening outside. He found some surprises.
'There were a lot of police,' Griffin said. 'It was insane. It felt like a police state. There were all these cops with guns and pepper spray. I felt uneasy.'
There were also protesters, many of them religion-oriented, and what most of them seemed to be against was homosexuality.
'I took a picture of one of them carrying a sign that said 'Homo sex is a sin,'' Griffin said.
There were also musical groups, poets reading their poetry and lots of independent filmmakers recording the whole scene.
One thing in particular impressed Griffin.
'The city was really clean,' he said. 'I only saw one homeless guy. I don't know where they put them all.'
Even though the police were not letting the general public into the convention center, Griffin said, 'I saw lots of representatives from different states walking around, and there were lots of Secret Service agents. You could tell them by the little things coming from behind their ears.'
Of his experience in Denver, Griffin said, 'It was crazy, it was exciting, it was awesome. I would like to do it again.'
Griffin, a '07 Lakeridge grad and student at Portland Community College, is now back home in Lake Oswego. But he has a lot more than the many photos he and his dad, Dewey Griffin, took in Denver. The Democratic Convention has got him thinking politics.
'I'm an independent, but I'm leaning toward the Democrats,' Griffin said. 'I was very interested in politics before I went there, and now I'm even more-so.
'For the most part I've only been paying attention to politics for the past few years, but I know people are (upset) at the government. We've been told we face a trillion dollar deficit.
'I can't speak for everyone my age, but I know we're ready for a change. Barack Obama is not the answer to everything, but at least he's something different.'
Obama was formally expected to receive the nomination Wednesday evening. Tonight he will offer up his acceptance speech at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver. Some 75,000 tickets have been distributed for the event.