Basking in a spotlights glow, he meanders toward family members waiting on stage to accept the Colorado Democratic Partys nomination for the upcoming U.S. Senate race.
The mood is triumphant, the crowd adoring.
Chun Pan and a handful of other war protesters tail Udall on his nomination march, their signs bobbing near the edge of Udalls bubble of light. Pan, a state convention delegate from Lakewood, then crowds the stage as Udall starts to speak, raising and shaking a sign that reads: Bring our troops home where they belong.
Delegates sitting in the front rows yell in frustration that he is blocking their view; Pan smiles awkwardly, shifts position and then raises the sign again. Later, he explains why he protests a candidate who said in his acceptance speech he opposed the war from its beginning and intends to see the troops brought home.
Udall voted for funding of war, Pan says. You cant help the troops by funding them.
For a handful of protesters inside the Colorado Democratic State Convention and Assembly on Saturday, and a few more outside it, the partys opposition to the war and its stated commitment to see it end arent enough. Colorado Springs activists Eric Verlo and Peter Sprunger-Froese, anti-war demonstrators whose group became known as the St. Patricks Day Seven after they were arrested during the 2007 parade, wind up in police custody again soon after 7 a.m. near a designated free-speech zone in front of the arena. They had been trying to unfurl a banner asking Democrats to stop funding the war.
(Police say the two refused to return to the designated zone after repeated requests. Verlo says the protesting area was not clearly marked and that police overreacted as they broke protest signs over their knees. The men now face trespassing charges.)
Carolyn Bninski of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in Boulder stands within the free-speech zone as she hands fliers to passing delegates. The sheets criticize Udall, Rep. John Salazar and Sen. Ken Salazar for votes to fund the war.
Richard Andrews, active with the same center, carries that message inside as a delegate from Boulder County. Though the party has officially opposed the war for years, he says, the funding votes allow it to continue. And, he notes, as long as [the troops] are there, they are in harms way.
Andrews says hes been delivering that message to Udall for years, speaking at his open houses and sending mail now sometimes certified letters to Udalls home.
Taylor West, communications director for Udalls Senate campaign, says the congressman has been working on plans for a responsible withdrawal, but that he is committed to providing funding while troops are fighting. Denying funding, she argues, is essentially leveraging the troops.
Thats something Mark wont do, she says. There are efforts to create a responsible redeployment plan.
While those efforts couldnt come too soon for Pan, he seems encouraged that anti-war voices are growing louder. He drove to Crawford, Texas, in August 2005 to join Cindy Sheehan as she camped outside President Bushs ranch to protest the war that took her sons life a year earlier.
Back then, he says, she was the only one who spoke out.
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