Occupy Colorado Springs evicted by cops after mayor denies renewal of camping permit
If you had to compare another Colorado occupation to that of Occupy Denver, Occupy Colorado Springs might provide one of the most stark contrasts. As of early this morning, however, both groups share recent and complete evictions off of city property.
Around 1 a.m., the Colorado Springs Police Department removed the group from its month-long home of Acacia Park.
Until midnight, the protesters' ability to legally camp in the park had been protected by a thirty-day temporary permit -- but Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach denied the group's application to renew it. Bach provided occupiers with a list of the six reasons behind his decision via a letter, but only one has made the open rounds so far: Monitoring the group's presence is too costly to the CSPD.
Early last night, city officials alerted police of the change in policy, and about twenty officers gathered at Acacia Park beginning at 10 p.m. An hour later, officers provided the approximately fifty protesters present with warning that they would have until 1 p.m. to remove all structures from the area.
Below is a video from KKTV 11's coverage of the event:
The legal use of the word "structures" is similar to the interpretation applied to Occupy Denver, where an igloo and stacked cardboard boxes have been categorized under the term. Although protesters removed other belongings, most left their tents in the area, at which point officers spent an hour and a half removing them after the two-hour warning period expired.
"In general, [occupiers] were nonviolent, just verbal and vocal with us," CSPD lieutenant Pat Rigdon says. "I think they see this as a denial of Constitutional rights by us, and they're free to feel that way. As the tents actually came down, it became a little more vocal to the point where there was a lot of obscene language used. But it did remain peaceful throughout the night."
A marked difference between this eviction in Colorado Springs and the two similar events in Denver is the lack of mass arrests. No protesters were taken into custody, Rigdon says, and by early this morning, only one protester had returned to the area. Given last night's eviction, officers plan to consistently monitor the park.
No conclusion has yet been reached concerning where Occupy Colorado Springs will relocate.
"The group always has the option of private property, if they can gain permission from an owner," Rigdon says. "Up until last night, the relationship between us and the occupiers had been fairly positive and open, and it seems that has changed a little bit overnight. They're a bit more opposed to us now than they were yesterday."
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: David Lane on city collusion denial, injunction over honks, donations & more."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.