Occupy Denver: 21 arrests, magistrate refuses to lower bond rate
Today's arraignment for last night's Occupy Denver arrests continued a vein of strict bond rates applied across the board. Lawyers received little time to speak to those arrested, and though all pleaded not guilty, all misdemeanor charges were met with a bond rate of $550. Part-time magistrate John Hoffman allowed no arguments in favor of lowering this number or releasing any protesters without bail, regardless of prior offenses.
"He wasn't accepting any arguments from us this morning," says Charles Nadler, president of the Colorado chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, who entered a special appearance on behalf of three defendants this morning. "Two Sundays ago, the same thing happened, where they were cracking down on us and didn't allow PR bonds then, either. My guess is that the prosecution is trying to shut down the demonstrators."
Today's arraignments, held at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. at the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center, included only nine protesters, because many were bailed out over the course of last night. Although the Denver Police Department has reported 20 total arrests, the defense's docket began with 22 this morning before one man, Javier Garay, was identified as a traffic violation case, not an Occupy Denver protester. This leaves a remaining 21 arrests this round, Nadler says.
A protester is arrested and dragged from the scene of last night's protest.
The professional legal team backing up the group is 48 people strong: 45 lawyers have volunteered, and the group includes an additional two investigators and one appellate attorney. "We're loaded," Nadler says. "This is a large criminal defense firm, and we're prepared to take on any other cases that might result."
Although the full list of arrestees has not yet been released, the misdemeanor charges heard this morning focused on disobeying a lawful order, and all who received it earned a bond of $550 except for Marcus Luers, whose prior charges raised the rate to $1,000. Although two felony charges and two juvenile cases have been previously reported, Nadler confirmed only one felony investigation and one juvenile case.
John Sexton, whose face was riddled with wounds as he walked into court the courtroom this morning, was arrested for investigation of a fourth-degree felony: second-degree assault of a police officer. His bail is set at $20,000, making him the most difficult prospect for the Denver Anarchist Black Cross, the organization assisting Occupy Denver's legal needs, to plan for at the moment. "We're going to have a talk with him and see where he's at and how badly he wants out right now," says Cat Keffer, a consistent member of the occupation's legal team. "We have enough money to bail the rest out soon, thanks to donations and a very large check we received recently. We're accepting more donations to raise the total in the meantime."
Two of those arrested last night have been involved in previous arrests on behalf of Occupy Denver: Stephen Lidanne, who was arrested for occupying an igloo after hours, and Westword profile subject Billy Reno (real name William Hall), who was pulled out of a tent Wednesday night. Hall has already been released from jail.
The list of defendants who appeared in court this morning is:
1. Ashley Albertsen, disobeying a lawful order 2. David Blessing, disobeying a lawful order 3. Chris Coffelt, disobeying a lawful order 4. Douglas Holland, disobeying a lawful order 5. Robert Huffman, disobeying a lawful order 6. Stephen Liddane, disobeying a lawful order 7. Marcus Luers, disobeying a lawful order 8. Benjamin Meyer, disobeying a lawful order 9. John Sexton, second-degree assault of a police officer.
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: Biggest riot squad presence to date, pepper bullets, multiple arrests (PHOTOS)."
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Denver, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.