Yesterday afternoon, RedLine art gallery housed hundreds of Occupy movement supporters from Colorado and beyond as they reflected on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and how to translate it to protesting inequality between the 99 percent and the 1 percent. But in recent weeks, the local movement has made little news, and Mayor Michael Hancock isn't surprised. He says the public has stopped caring about Occupy Denver.
In comments made at a press availability last week, Hancock attributed this disinterest to two specific actions in the past month: On the night of December 19, protesters at Occupy Denver set fire to structures inside their encampment as police moved in to remove them. Due to a city ordinance forbidding encumbrances from blocking local sidewalks, Occupiers were warned to remove the forts they had erected in protest as they waited for police to evict them from the area.
"People's patience had worn thin, I think, because of the trash, and when they went in to collect it, they lit things on fire," Hancock said.
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The issue even made it as far as Boulder, where, during a city council meeting to discuss an impending park curfew rule, local officials expressed worry that Occupy Boulder would also gain negative attention through photos of similar events in the future.
The second event Hancock cited as turning public opinion against the movement occurred the next day. On the night of December 20, approximately thirty protesters gathered to protest Mayor Hancock's presence at the annual vigil for the homeless sponsored by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Although the event was not officially sanctioned by Occupy Denver, those who participated shouted "Shame!" repeatedly in order to prevent Hancock from speaking. Why? They viewed his presence as hypocritical the day after the city evicted Occupy protesters, some of whom are also homeless.
"That was extremely disappointing and disrespectful," Hancock noted. "I think the people said that was enough. The media stopped asking about (them). We just don't do things like that in Denver. I think they miscalculated the response they would get."
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: The Logan School visits for a field trip focused on how to save the world."