Occupy Denver: Ideological split spurs idea for Liberate Denver to fight oppression
Recent divisions inside Occupy Denver have led to the ideological creation of Liberate Denver, a related but completely separate entity much like the Thunderdome. Although the idea has spread through the ranks for a while, it solidified on Sunday afternoon during a general assembly devoted to how the group handles violence. In the meantime, it has taken to Twitter.
Right now, Liberate Denver remains mostly an idea, but occupiers have consistently proven that ideas, though tough to control, are powerful in this movement. A handful of members are working to establish regular space and time for the second entity, which was inspired by issues of violence and patriarchy within the ranks and is targeted toward starting over, this time united against those issues.
"Changing the world takes time," says Kerri Kellerman, a Thunderdomer volunteer who supports the concept of Liberate Denver but also remains a part of Occupy Denver. "The movement is young, and right now the entire community is detoxing from this capitalism as a whole. So we're dealing with these huge growing pains of violence and assault and misogyny and these other internal issues, just like all of the movements are."
Occupy Denver protesters gather for a weekend general assembly.
A recent example of friction occurred during Saturday's regularly scheduled march. While about 1,200 people took to the street at noon, a handful of its members took to boogying along the way. The group periodically spread an American flag on the ground to dance on top of it, throwing glitter as they did so. Since then, the action has come under question from some Occupy Denver members who claim it disrespects the flag and draws negative attention, while others support the expression of free speech. A few detractors, however, became aggressive: Former Occupy Denver protester and current Liberate Denver supporter Josie (last name withheld) was verbally assaulted and called a bitch by a man who opposed the dance.
The action, and the reaction from group members who discussed it Sunday night, led in part to Josie's decision to disassociate herself from Occupy Denver and focus on Liberate Denver, a new group that had been tossed around in conversation. The goal is for Liberate Denver to eradicate any class division, patriarchy and culture of infighting that Occupy Denver might currently sustain.
"Women and transgendered people are marginalized here and treated as 23rd-class citizens inside the movement," Kellerman says. "People here want change for themselves, but right now it doesn't feel like they want equality. We have homeless people and addicts and tweakers just like every other group does, and we have to support all of our members equally."
This division between groups is one of the main reasons behind Liberate Denver's ideological inception. Its supporters, a couple of whom have cut ties to Occupy Denver, are focused on creating what's been described as a "safer space for all voices"
"Since #occupydenver refuses to adopt a culture of liberation rooted in anti-oppression, then it is time to create a new space," one Twitter user writes.
Although no solid plans have been announced for the new entity, a Twitter account (with zero followers) has been created for the account @liberatedenver, and the hashtag is spreading through the site.
"It's a great idea, but it hasn't started quite yet," Kellerman says. "We could still follow Occupy Wall Street and just call it Liberate Denver. It doesn't matter what it's called, just what it stands for: complete social equality and a lack of oppression."
!-- https://twitter.com/HaywoodDenver/status/134477679448702976 -->
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver protesters want their dog-and-leader to meet with Governor Hickenlooper."
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.