With Occupy Denver protester Corey Donahue, nothing is ever easy

The last time Corey Donahue landed in jail, it took his friends four days to decide to bail him out. Given the number of times they've had to make this decision over the two months and two weeks of Occupy Denver's brief life downtown — four, to be exact — it should be easy by now. But with Donahue, nothing ever is.

Occupy Denver's loudest and most well-documented protester is a tattooed former MMA fighter, an outspoken marijuana activist, a vehement anarchist, the Don Quixote of the local occupation (if Quixote's windmills were state troopers) and the single biggest drain on its legal funds to date. Donahue has been arrested four times in two months, for eight charges in all, ranging from unlawful conduct on state property to inciting a riot to unlawful sexual contact. These come at the tail end of a criminal record that includes 21 total charges, starting when he was nineteen and continuing through his ripe and raucous late twenties. The man's rap sheet alone puts him at the ironic forefront of an aggressively leaderless movement — whether he or anyone else wants him to be there. Corey Donahue has become a minor martyr by being a major nuisance.

"His actions speak for themselves. I spend my time making an effort not to worry about his activities," says Mason Tvert, a proponent of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol campaign, who takes a convoluted — but common — approach to dealing with Donahue. "There are a lot more effective activists."

But there are few more passionate. By the time Donahue was finally released from jail on November 16, it had taken all of the protesters' combined resources to get him out. With two charges of failing to appear already on his record and a potential felony charge for inciting a riot and obstruction of justice in connection with this most recent arrest on November 13, Donahue's $5,000 bond — his highest yet — looked like a risky investment to some protesters. While he sat in a holding cell, Occupy Denver discussed whether to use its collective resources to bail him out during one of its daily general-assembly meetings; the vote ended quickly in his favor. The group earmarked $2,500 for the cause, matching the amount coming from its internal legal team, which was then supported by the Denver Anarchist Black Cross.

"People can have their reservations about Corey, but the fact of the matter is that he's trying to help people," says Cat Keffer, a representative of Occupy Denver's legal team and one of a dozen members of the DABC, a collective that defends the rights of those involved in mass political and social movements. "If he gets arrested again, it could mean that we can no longer help him. He has so many bonds in his name that it's to the point now that we need an intense amount of collateral in order to be able to bond him out at all."

Donahue's initial Occupy Denver arrest, on October 14, came after he set up the occupation's first tent — and then attempted to stop Colorado State Patrol officers from removing other structures. While cameras rolled, he tried to feed bread to riot police as they tore down the Thunderdome, the kitchen tent; he'd launched fruit and cheese at the same group of officers the day before. He later ordered pizza to be delivered to the protesters on the steps of the State Capitol, and a lawful order to leave found him escorted out of the same building — and under arrest, because of an outstanding warrant — after protesters occupied the governor's office on November 8. He currently has three restraining orders against him — one from his sexual-misconduct case and an additional two from state troopers. As a result, it will be difficult for Donahue to enter the Capitol again in the near future.

"We're all aware of who he is," says state trooper C.J. Valdez. "We've had experience with him."

That experience includes the day Donahue stood in front of a Denver cop car as it advanced toward Civic Center Park and he grinned on camera while doing so. He helped rebuild the Thunderdome six times, reacting with glee when its consistent destruction made it a symbol of the movement. (The Thunderdome has since separated itself from Occupy Denver and become a sister movement.) When Donahue also became a symbol, his reaction was less warm but more resolved.

"I would never in a million years say I'm a leader here, but if they want to see me as one, I can see why," he says. "And I'll let them. There's nothing I wouldn't do to tear the system down, burn it and start the fuck over."

Although Don Quixote may seem an unlikely role model for a successful career in political activism, Donahue compares himself to the crazy Cervantes character, who spends almost 1,000 pages traveling through sixteenth-century Spain, distorting reality and creating a minor or major mess of every situation he encounters before eventually renouncing his antics and dying in the same small village from which he dramatically departed at the novel's beginning. "Don Quixote just left his house and got the shit kicked out of him, again and again and again, and he loved it," says Donahue, who plans to have Quixote's image tattooed on his forearm. "If I get two more people to think, 'Well, Corey might be crazy as shit, but he has a point,' that's really all it takes."

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Tony
Tony

Great article. I don't think it sounds any more "negative" than positive.

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Eric
Eric

As a teaher and high school football coach, it is always rewarding to see former students and players develop a passion and desire for life that manisfests itself into community involvement. Having coached Corey in football for four years as an adolescent (ages 10-13), I still marvel at his intensity and desire for the game even at a young age. It was clear that he would bring this intensity into his adult life. What the article didn't mention was that Corey was always very respectful to those that treated him well and that his father was and is a great guy that loved him very much. Despite our ideological differences and the media-inspired label of him as a loose cannon, I wish him the best. Heck, I'd love to have lunch with the guy again.

Guess
Guess

The writer did not mention that I said "Corey is a good kid and I love him." A very negative article which, unfortunately, Westword is known for. Corey has done many wonderful things in his life with many more to come. This rookie writer has more inaccuracies in the article than truth so please consider it fiction. Love always, Dad

Wayward Bill
Wayward Bill

Corey is a friend. He is definitely opinionated. He is a true frontline warrior. He is CRAZY LIKE A FOX! You go Corey.Peace, Pot, Politics,Wayward Bill ChengelisChairman, US Marijuana PartyChairman, US Marijuana Party of ColoradoAsst. Director Denver 4/20 Rally

megarman
megarman

Good lord. Another push by the Westword to legalize pot. Aren't there enough brain-dead stoners around here already?

I thought all this was anti-wallstreet?

Evan Herzoff
Evan Herzoff

Um, you are aware, Kelsey Whipple, that Occupy Denver was not a demonstration for legalizing marijuana specifically, correct? No where in this entire piece showcasing one average, in fact typical, Chauvinistic and overbearing male stoner from Boulder, as if Boulder hasn't produced a million of those, attributing figurehead status to him on behalf of Occupy Denver, does it provide any context or description of the purpose for Occupy Denver in the first place. Furthermore a person who shamelessly engages in coercive behaviors like sexual harassment is most definitely not an anarchist. Anarchism's premise is an opposition to all forms of domination, not just the state and the cops, but male domination of women, employer domination of employees, and frankly the freedom of weed smokers is not so high on the average anarchist's list of priorities. Just because someone is at odds with the criminal authorities you know as "police" that doesn't make them anarchist.

Quit redefining the word anarchist, it just confuses people. I'll admit I was impressed with Corey's performance of getting arrested for refusing to move for a DPD cruiser, but if he is making such sacrifices just to legalize pot then not only has the grievance of the Occupy Together movement been overshadowed, and in effect buried out of sight, as a result of your coverage of his actions, but it would seem that he obviously hasn't paid much attention to more serious forms of oppression through most of his life. Judging by your description of his background and education I seriously doubt that is the case. And if he says he doesn't care about social justice then he is most definitely not an adherent to the ideology that holds social justice as the highest priority in most cases, namely anarchism.

Why didn't your interview with him include any questions about Goldman Sachs, AIG, J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, UBS, or Citigroup? You remember those controversial bailouts, when the Federal Reserve rewarded a bunch of crooks for being crooks essentially, don't you? Why is there nothing in this article about that? What about home foreclosures, obviously the homeless are part of the "99%" - a fundamentally flawed and misleading slogan from the start - but that doesn't narrow it down to home foreclosures, and health care costs as well as gentrification play a larger role arguably in the explosion of the homeless population, and no details about that are included at all. The protester who is now the poster child for Occupy Denver is showcased in an article that doesn't mention the most fundamental purpose for Occupy Denver even one time. This article is misguidedly gossiping and showcasing a man with predictably outrageous behavior - even though his behavior is only outrageous for Puritans maybe, where I come from he would be considered normal and average, and his behavior would be dismissed as typical of privileged white males. Maybe in Boulder he's a shocker but in Denver he's really not shocking at all. There is much worse a few blocks up Colfax.

So really Corey's probably not such a bad guy, but this article will make him the poster child of betrayal-by-showboating and diverting the attention of the public - and just watch when he is blasted with that very criticism because his personality and behavior is so much more sensational than the important issues at hand which you, Whipple, have chosen to pretty much ignore all together. Yes, this article sucks, and is not informative. Write another one and try asking about the actual issues at hand, which does not include marijuana. That stupid wedge issue is becoming more annoying than I ever thought it would, the war on drugs should be ended and "harm reduction" is the phrase that should be in the headlines, not "Medical Marijuana." Your first clue that issue is a fluke from the start is the fact that most dispensaries are located near a red light district, not a hospital. That's where drug addicts go to buy their drugs, not medical patients.

Pamela
Pamela

I think some people keep perpetuating this lie about sexual misconduct because, had it not been a lie, they might have a chance to be touched by him. hahaha.

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Bugsycook
Bugsycook

Once those little idiot moronic anarchists are doing time for their childish behavior - making their political point to their cellmates who don't "give a you know what" - the rest of us can get on with making meaningful change in this country, bringing people together instead of dividing them and p*ssing off the public to a very good cause.

We had entire families showing up for our rallies until you little jerks scared and drove away people with your need to get your kicks with a riot over TENTS! You can sit in jail or at home with your little ankle-monitor swapping your tales of your glory days of tents and pepper-spray, because once there, no one is going to remember you for your"heroic revolutionary" effort .

The police are not blameless but you masked little jerks sure brought ALOT of it on YOURSELVES and RUINED it for ALOT of well-meaning people with good intentions!

Good riddance!

BF
BF

I've got to say that, putting this man on the cover and showcasing him in the fashion that you have is absolutely abhorrent and it's unfortunate that you felt it necessary to present him in such an honorable way - when in fact what he does is the complete opposite. As many have said, he's innocent until proven guilty, however - he's under investigation for sexual misconduct? Sure, he's not plugging little boys in his basement like Sandusky - but if I went to the mall right now and slapped a girl in the tit with a smile, what would happen to me? You can bet I'd be thrown on the predator list faster than your advertisers cycle through. I've tried to take your coverage of the Occupy with a grain of salt, because I understand what way Westword leans, however, placing this man - first at the forefront of it when there is no forefront (other than a dog) and second: honoring him in place of some of your other cover stories who have worked their butt off for the community just to get noticed. This is truly disgusting. He's a criminal, a deviant, a psychopath and a drain on the society he claims to fight for. He is no steadfast hero of contemporary persecution. I'm against the occupy movement, however, what this does is put a huge cog in the wheels that they've been out there for because as big of a joke as they have been - now it has a face - which is an even bigger joke. I'll liken this to the Kobe scandal - had you him on the cover with a Roman collar around his neck. This is unfortunate for you and those that work hard to make this a readable rag every week. Oops.

bug0118
bug0118

I don't remember voting for this guy to be the "leader" of Occupy Denver. When did that happen? Oh wait, that's right, IT DIDN'T!

Tbrunke26
Tbrunke26

Just another misguided hippie.

just sayin
just sayin

Damn I love that you photo shopped a janky old graphics bong into Corey's hands, but I feel it is inaccurate as it is unlikely that a guy like Corey would be able to retain the rubber lip guard for as long as it has been since any local head shops got caught selling cheap-o plastic tubes like the one you've depicted in the mile high city!

Bugsycook
Bugsycook

Corey isn't helping the movement at all. He and his adolescent anarchists are just turning people off and in the long run for him - securing a prison term. Do us a favor Michael/Cory, those who believe in non-violent disobedience and dissent , go do your time and grow up already, you are an idiot.

Suzy Orlando
Suzy Orlando

Corey is a GREAT person!!!! He was one of the only ones who could DEAL with it out there feeding everyone, dealing with the homeless, the cops and the 2-faced members of OD (the ones who just sit on their butts at their computers and criticize). Everytime we dropped off food and supplies Corey talked to us about what was going on with passion. THAT is why he was arrested and charged so harshly - BECAUSE HE IS AN EFFECTIVE LEADER!!! Everyone around had a job to do when Corey was in charge!!! A gentle giant!! A TRUE LEADER!!! Great article Westword!!!

RyanJohnSmith
RyanJohnSmith

You've got to be kidding me.....

" I refuse to pay for my education " So basically he took advantage of the same system he claims to hate ?

Did you guys fact check this ? Because I'm going to.

cjygudwin
cjygudwin

If this were my son I would get clean&sober and invite him to do the same. He clearly has some type of mental illness and a substance abuse problem that will eventually be the cause of his early death. Sadly, somebody like this would never be willing to take psych meds because they think these are some type of corporate conspiracy.I have seen quite a bit of obvious untreated mental illness on display at our Occupy site in Boston. It doesn't help the cause.

Guest
Guest

I appreciate that Corey is your friend. From my perspective, he has attached his brand of 'activism' to a larger social movement-namely, Occupy Denver-because his brand of shenanigans have never gotten his pet causes anywhere. To me, he's simply using Occupy to advance his own agenda. He has stated clearly that he's not really a part of Occupy, as has almost everyone associated with the Thunderdome, yet he feels entitled to try and lead the entire movement from the sidelines, where it's safe. He refuses to be bound by the General Assembly, and subverts it as it suits him. Of all the folks Kelsey could have chosen to do a feature story on, this fella should be the last. How about Ben, who works tirelessly for the homeless community AND has the good sense to open dialogue with the City for the benefit of every occupier? What about Dwayne, someone who has had his struggles but continues to rise, and to inspire others through his example of focused living? Corey is controversial, so he got his 15 minutes of fame. I hope he enjoys them, because the world tires of attention whores pretty quickly. I'm pretty sure he signed every single Westword printed this week...

Reno Denver
Reno Denver

Skeery to witness the the evolution of the Vietnam War protester! Fascism sold as patriotism.....the same people that spat on Vets when they came home now see themselves as guardians of the news critiquing good journalists like Kelsey.

brenda rosebud
brenda rosebud

BEAUTIFULLY PUT! Gotta love ya, Evan, you bring up important insight into this very misleading article. It seems more like it was a piece to showcase somebody without a clue to anarchism, yet attributing HIS behavior to "anarchy" & "what" anarchists "do"....just another disinformation fluff piece designed to cast radicals in a bad light. This is insulting to true anarchists committed to social, ecomonic, environmental justice, human & species rights, worker rights- in other words, people actually working towards dismantling the very system that oppresses...and I for one, appreciate your commentary!

paprtigr3
paprtigr3

First off, I'm an anarchist and I would totally nut-shot a news anchor. That is not sexual assault. That is what you might call "a physical manifestation of speaking truth to power." And it's hilarious.

Secondly, you don't need to call people who use medical marijuana "drug addicts." Some users are definitely casual tokers, or even weedheads. Others are using it for genuine, widely-recognized, medicinal purposes.

While there was not enough spotlighting of what you might call the Occupy "issues," we have to remember that, just as much as Occupy was spurred by an Adbuster call to resist Wall Street greed, it quickly became more about creating something new than simply criticizing all that is wrong with this terrible system we live in.

Furthermore, the point of this article was to spotlight one figure in Occupy Denver. The author noted more than once that Corey does see himself as a "leader," and in fact would abhor the thought of being called such. I appreciated that, given that it's easy for outsiders to just assume that people like him are the "leaders" of the movment.

Finally, I sense a very holier-than-thou tone in your rant and was super turned off. As anarchists, lets celebrate others who live free. Surely, let's call them out when they infringe on the rights of others. But, let's not be critics when that is not called for.

In general, I just get tired of the constant negativity and defeatism from my fellow anti-authoritarians. The world needs your creativity, positivity, intelligence, and gusto, people; not your reflexive white middle class, quick-to-judge, tendency to give up on great people and great movements when you find things that you do not like. Seriously, don't give up. I want nothing more than to see you out in the streets with me, even if that means you're just there to call Corey an asshole.

Guest
Guest

I doubt that's the case-but then, you would know if it would be worth the effort to be touched by Corey, wouldn't ya, Pam? Your 'friend' Corey has made himself a public figure, and as such, his actions are subject to public scrutiny. Not everyone is as gullible as his pals at the Thunderdome are, thank god. Most folks seem to see Corey for exactly what he is-an overgrown teenager who seeks publicity by throwing public temper tantrums.

Reno Denver
Reno Denver

"we"? .....i strongly suggest you take grade school over again and this time DONT FLICK BOOGERS AT THE GIRLS during the civil rights history lesson!

Reno Denver
Reno Denver

It's a better face than the 1 you hide

just sayin

Rob
Rob

Effective leader? Says who? Did I miss the General Assembly where we voted for Corey Donahue to lead our leaderless movement? Some of Corey's tactics and strategies are effective, certainly. Some are harebrained and poorly carried out. The cover of Westword does not confer any special status.

Reno Denver
Reno Denver

1wks passed....obviously you found nothing. Or did your parents kick you outta their basement?

Pamela
Pamela

Hey, you can answer a question I've always wondered--Is ignorance bliss?

Pamela
Pamela

Oh, you mean Ben who literally calls women "cry-babies" when they're calling out the sexual exploitation and violence of women at the occupation, while his friend laughs. Yeah, because men expecting sexual favors for blankets is hilarious. Oh, and the woman to whom that happened, got help from me, Kerri, Caryn, and Corey in kicking that guy out after trying for days to get help from "security" at Occupy Denver. That is the same list of people who kicked out men being violent with women as well. That's why we disassociate with Occupy Denver, not because we're against the movement. We're against the people calling themselves part of a movement who think they can cause deep structural changes in the economic powers of America by strolling down 16th St. mall on Saturdays or hitting "like" on facebook. The Thunderdome is the REAL Occupy Denver. The DABC's legal line, street medics, and arrestee support were the REAL Occupy Denver. The participants in direct actions are the REAL Occupy Denver. The GA and committees are self-congratulatory bureaucrats, the mirror-image of our ineffectual US government.

Reno Denver
Reno Denver

and not every1's a gulla-cow like you :D

Pamela
Pamela

Damn, another person who can't take a joke. At least you didn't call the cops on me for it.

RyanJohnSmith
RyanJohnSmith

Now that you mention it, I did contact N.S.Wales and they have NO RECORD OF HIM EVER ATTENDING.

I just didn't think the manic-depressive dirtball deserved anymore of my time; nor do you. Why are do you have such a boner for this clown ?

Pamela
Pamela

First of all, I was nice enough to say that he's probably not a bad guy, but that this is what I experienced. Second of all, this WAS my experience. It happened, and in front of plenty of people. There were 2 guys there from Occupy Fort Collins who didn't know any of us, who even came up to me afterwards and asked what was wrong with those guys (Ben and his friend) that were treating me that way. Afterwards, I had women coming up to me telling me more about how they are being treated, that they felt disenfranchised, threatened, unappreciated, unheard, exploited, etc. I was a woman down there that women felt they could come to with their problems, but unfortunately it got to be too much for me too. That's why you haven't really seen me around anymore. It was THAT experience that disgusted me so much that I left. I have no reason to say anything about Ben, except that this was my experience with him and it was awful.

anonymous
anonymous

I cannot believe that you would come here and slander someone like this. Ben has never done these things. You must have him confused with someone else. I am disgusted to see these allegations brought against him here. Pamela, you cross the line again and again and this time you have attacked the wrong person. Ben is a credit to Occupy Denver for all he has done to help the people on the ground. Unlike your boyfriend Corey, Ben is there all the time. He works tirelessly to help the people there and singlehandedly coordinated warm houses for several homeless people during the coldest nights. He has worked with homeless youth to get them into transitional housing so they can avoid a life of homelessness. That you would chose to slander someone who has done so much in such a disgusting way is horrifying. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Pamela
Pamela

I don't want to just talk badly about someone on here, so I'll say that Ben is probably not a bad guy. But, THIS was my interaction with him and it left me extremely upset. Therefore, my perception of him is through the lense of this experience.

 
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