Occupy Denver: Meeting with Police Chief ends (again) with warning to remove encumbrances
To sum it up briefly, Occupy Denver's meeting with Police Chief Robert White this afternoon lasted less than an hour and ended without any decisions or a consensus, but the main issue remained unresolved: whether there would be a police raid on the camp to remove its built-up fort city of cardboard and temporary structures.
Although White did not cement a date for that raid, he once again confirmed the group's collective fears: Denver Police plan to remove Occupiers' "encumbrances" soon.
Although the majority of the discussion between White and Occupy Denver protesters centered on the forthcoming removal of all encumbrances, both parties began with introductions: White's company included public information officer Matt Murray and one other representative, while Occupy Denver brought the maximum ten protesters the group was allowed according to the department's Twitter invitation.
Last night, Occupy Denver voted on the selection if its ten members at its 7 p.m. general assembly. Approximately 50 people met to nominate delegates to meet with White and his staff, and nominees were then weeded out with yes-or-no votes after delivering brief speeches in support of their presence at the meeting. Those with the most yes votes received spots at the meeting.
One of those selected is Jason Ball, a member of the group's 24/7 committee and the Family of Love, the group that occupies the largest of the current encumbrances across the street from the occupation. Ball says he is disappointed with the results of the meeting, but he admits a firm decision in support of the group was unlikely at a first meeting.
Occupy Denver's Family of Love built this temporary house, one of the area's encumbrances, overnight.
"What we started off with was whether we were going to be raided," Ball says. "The stance he took was that they're going to enforce the code, and he kept repeating it the entire time. We gave a lot of our points -- why he should focus on bigger issues, how these are our homes now, things like that -- and he heard us out but said, 'Sorry, you have to take everything down.'"
The group's refusal to do so was met with confirmation that the police department plans to move in on the area in order to enforce the city ordinance without the movement's help. Because the group expected a raid as early as Thursday, its members remain anxious about the forthcoming police action. In the past week, protesters have built the encumbrances larger and fortified them with wooden boards in order to make them as difficult to remove as possible.
Ball fears an eviction will occur tonight, though he hopes the snow will hold off any action for at least another day.
"We wanted to start a dialogue, but we didn't get out as much as we would have liked," Ball says. "Since we're not going anywhere, we don't want to continue having this antagonistic with the police force. They want us to move off the sidewalk, but where do we go?"
What actually did come out of the meeting, then?
"They had a cheese plate there for us," Ball says. "They won't let us stay overnight out of the cold, but at least they gave us some cheese."
The meeting was cut short around 3 p.m. by another meeting White had previously scheduled.
More from our Occupy Denver archives: "Occupy Denver greeted by Police Chief Robert White while awaiting eviction."