In the week since Occupy Denver was evicted on December 21, the Denver Police Department has kept Chief Robert White's promise to remove any and all structures on a daily basis. Last night, this feat involved nine officers, eight police cars, two Public Works trucks and one arrest when police visited the site around 1 a.m. The most recent culprit was the group's food supply: boxes of donated bread and Clementine oranges.
Following a rowdy raid that saw parts of the encampment set on fire, the DPD has remained strict with its enforcement of the city's no-encumbrances policy. Today, the local chapter of the occupation sleeps and spends its time predominantly in the front left corner of the park, where officers visited it very early this morning.The scene that resulted is newly typical to the area, which now gets daily late-night DPD visits and sees between three and four parked police cars during its open hours.
When extra officers pulled up to the park in the early morning, their presence surprised none of the occupiers, nor did their goal of reinforcing the encumbrances regulation. The night before, for example, city officials had brought a bulldozer into Civic Center Park to remove a pile of snow one occupier had stacked during the day. (This is not the first time this has happened.)
Last night, nine officers gathered in Occupy Denver's current corner space and asked protesters to remove their food supplies from the area. The request earned immediate refusal: Although the group is exploring a plan to establish a storage unit, it currently has no go-to means of stashing collective property.
Instead, as officers waited for Public Works officials to drive over in two waste collection trucks, they monitored the park and began a now-routine series of back-and-forth debate. "This is abandoned trash," DPD Sergeant Jeff Hausner told protesters. "We offered to let someone claim it and remove it, but nobody did. It's lost and abandoned garbage."
It was at this point in the night that protester Corey Donahue, accompanied by others, offered to fight the officers in an MMA match. They declined. He made insulting jokes. They returned the favor. ("Corey, don't you ever get tired of hearing yourself?" "Never.") When protester Caryn Sodaro tried to enter the park to remove a wooden sign, she was threatened with arrest for breaking park curfew. When she stepped back, it was occupier Nicole Sisneros who later earned that arrest instead -- her second in a week.
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"If you guys don't think we have things recorded on tape, you're sadly mistaken," Hausner said, followed later by, "You guys need to keep this clean and keep it from becoming a health hazard. As with every night, we'll be enforcing the rules out here."
"As with every night, we'll be helping you waste taxpayers' money," one occupier, who goes only by "Beard," responded.
"If that's how you want to see it," Hausner responded, "Fine." When police officers ended their latest visit to the occupation, it was with appropriate timing: A supporter had just dropped off two pizzas.
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Boulder park closure issue opened to public discussion after pressure from Occupy Boulder."