Occupy Denver: Exhibits let you judge First Amendment case for yourself (PICS)
This week's federal court hearing between Occupy Denver and the city ended in a denied injunction but much food for thought. Lead plaintiffs attorney David Lane called the decision a civil rights tragedy and said Judge Robert Blackburn "ignored most of the evidence we put in front of him." In order to help you make up your own mind (if you haven't already), Westword is sharing some of the evidence behind the case.
One of the first exhibits presented in court involved plaintiff Daniel Garcia's citation for honking in front of Civic Center Park on November 12. The handwritten story backs up Garcia's own and confirms that the officer who cited him was aware of the driver's intention to support the movement when he wrote him a ticket.
"When stopped (Garcia) was asked if he observed an emergency situation or needed to give an audible warning with his horn. (Garcia) stated he was 'showing support for Occupy Denver.'"
A summary of all citations for Garcia's honking offense.
In a later document provided by the city, the number of citations for the honking offense Garcia received (and later learned was dropped before the hearing) is laid out in a table (below). Since February 6 of this year, Garcia is the only person to receive a ticket for the action.
A great deal of the plaintiff's case revolved around the suggestion that the city of Denver was enforcing a handful of municipal ordinances differently for the occupation than it would for anyone in a similar situation -- even city politicians. Although Westword has already shown the plaintiff's evidence that Mayor Hancock promoted public honking during his campaign for office, Governor John Hickenlooper did the same.
To provide background on the relationship between police and protesters at the very beginning of the hearing, the plaintiffs called protester and freelance photographer Tanner Spendley to the stand as a witness. Spendley walked through several of the photos he has taken on-site, some of which are presented below, for use as both evidence and a narrative guide.
Police clash with protesters on November 13. (The woman in the foreground was later arrested.)
Another officer strikes a protester with a baton in the back during a weekend altercation.
More exhibits below.
Be sure to also look through the text messages sent between police officers in regard to Occupy Denver, one of which notes the creation of a fake Twitter account for the sole purpose of harassing occupiers online. This one, from October 30, provides an indication of the attitude displayed in many of the texts, which frequently insult the occupation with digs calling them names such as "pathetic" or "anarchist crap."
"it is nuts down here i have costume freaks yelling at protesters who are yelling at police who are yelling at transients." "and i take it you were protesting today instead of coming in early you treehugger animal activist."
"I donated a few hours last night because of the protest and we had a bunch of calls from all over the country with pissed off people watching some videos on the internet."
"Sunday the stoners got so stoned, so no motivation to protest today."
"in the last two days no less than one hundred people, at protest and other places, have screamed obscenities and directed demeaning remarks at me, and i am not allowed to respond in any way. what a great system."
In a document regarding the between forty to sixty men and women (one of which was Westword staffer Melanie Asmar) who camped downtown overnight to guarantee early spots in the line to request wedding venues and times, DPD Lieutenant Steve Addison dismisses any need to enforce the camping ordinance that applies to Civic Center Park with this group. The building's security was aware of the situation and okay with their presence, he writes, adding that:
There were a large number of people camping on the steps of the Webb building. Apparently they are all legitimate.
The defense provided fewer exhibits, one of which was the notice, provided to occupiers in person via printed copies, of the need to remove any enumbrances on the sidewalk. The deadline given is "immediately," and the notice was provided in the days proceeding the group's November 12 altercation with police.
For the defense's background section on additional background perspective, attorneys cited the need for Public Works to clean up Civic Center Park in recent weeks. The evidence presented here centered around two images of graffiti sprawled on the public fixtures inside the park:
More from our Occupy Denver archives: "Occupy Denver: Allegedly dead woman leads vigil for allegedly dead woman."
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.