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ACLU: Undercover Cops Staged Confrontation Amid DNC

Published: November 9, 2008
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Source: ABC News - Denver

Undercover police officers posing as protesters staged a fight with a police commander during the Democratic convention, and it was so convincing they were pepper-sprayed by a deputy who wasn't in on the ruse, a civil liberties group says.

The officers pretended to struggle with the Denver police commander so it would look like they were being forcibly removed from a big demonstration and their cover wouldn't be blown, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado said.

The ACLU said it obtained a police report on the incident under a state criminal justice records law.

In a letter to city officials, the ACLU questioned whether the fake confrontation worsened a tense situation with demonstrators and violated police rules.

Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson said he was unaware of the report and couldn't comment.

ACLU staff attorney Taylor Pendergrass asked the city of Denver's independent police monitor to order an investigation. The monitor, Rich Rosenthal, said he received the request and was looking into it.

The incident occurred on Aug. 25, the opening night of the convention. Police arrested 106 people that night, the most of any day during the convention.

Police have said anarchists planned to cause trouble near convention delegates' hotels and downtown businesses and that officers were trying to control the crowd.

A police "Use of Force" report released by the ACLU said, "In order not to be recognized as undercover detectives, some of the detectives put up a struggle with Commander Kroncke." Kroncke's first name wasn't immediately available.

Sheriff's deputies from neighboring Jefferson County were helping Denver police at the scene, and one deputy "thought that Commander Kroncke was being attacked" and sprayed the undercover officers, the report said.

The report said Kroncke was also sprayed. It doesn't say how many officers were involved or how badly anyone was affected by the spray.

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