Thanksgiving began a day early -- and a bit shaky -- for Occupy Denver this morning when the group's kitchen collective, the Thunderdome, took to the Denver Rescue Mission to confront Mayor Michael Hancock and Governor John Hickenlooper. The politicians acted as symbolic hosts of a holiday benefit to feed the homeless, an act the Thunderdome has previously attempted with Occupy Denver's constituency, a segment of which is homeless. Both Hickenlooper and Hancock left the building before the group confronted them en masse.
Protesters began brainstorming the event on Tuesday and organized its entire scope in fewer than 24 hours. Overnight, about five people cooked large portions of soup, rice and coffee, which were today accompanied by bagels and burritos in the gathering directly across from the lines of people waiting to enter the Denver Rescue Mission. Approximately fifty protesters met to gather and add their own presence and food across the street from what they viewed as a "hypocritical photo opportunity."
"Our goal was to feed people, first and foremost, to spread information about our society, to voice our rights within the movement and to create a direct action with Hickenlooper and Hancock," says Darren Lyman, an organizer with the Thunderdome and Fight With Food. "They keep tearing down the Thunderdome weekend after weekend, and all we want to do is feed people, but they say it's an encumbrance. We wanted to show them that their photo opportunity at the Denver Rescue Mission is hypocrisy at its finest."
Starting at 10 a.m., Thunderdome supporters gathered and set up food across the street while holding up signs with slogans decrying the kitchen's continued destruction and supporting the rights of the homeless. The physical Thunderdome has been torn down five times to date during altercations between protesters and police, and at the current moment, it does not have a presence in Civic Center Park. The kitchen in its stead now is a smaller (and communist) affair.
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During the benefit for the homeless, a group of eight protesters organized to enter the mission and present a hand-written note to the politicians while making a public statement about their own attempts to feed the homeless. The plan was thwarted, however, when Hickenlooper and Hancock left the building, and one benefit attendee experienced a seizure during the meal.
Only a few protesters, Corey Donahue included, successfully greeted Hickenlooper and Hancock as they left the building.
"I think it was successful in that we're continuing to feed people, but when we went into the mission, they knew who we were and exited the building," Lyman says. "It all goes to show that we can still, with just our presence, make a statement of addressing our grievances and relaying our message and showing that we still have the power. I'm sure they read some of our signs out here."
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver marks its two-month anniversary today: the photo story."