Occupy Denver tent city torn down: Anarchists remain, homeless sleep through action
Editor's note: Kelsey Whipple was at the scene of the former Occupy Denver tent city this morning. She phoned in updates. Update: As we broke from the scene, one protester sat reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago while a drive-by supporter blasted Smashing Pumpkins' "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" out his car window in solidarity.
The feisty remaining members of Occupy Denver plan to maintain the group's daily general assemblies at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. today, likely across the street from the original site, and an especially large rally is in the works for Saturday at noon.
Update, 8:25 a.m. September 14: Right now, only fifteen cops remain on scene; they're monitoring the perimeter. Four protesters advanced in their direction, dancing provocatively. It was just announced that the sidewalk is free. Meanwhile, there has been a big debate between remaining protesters -- and there was some aggressive infighting between different groups.
Some protesters wanted to walk over to the other side of the street and try to re-occupy the area where the tent city had been. But Neal Minter, who's seen in a video we posted on Wednesday confronting cops (to see it, click here) rejected that strategy.
"We're too small and too scattered," Minter said. "This ain't New York City. We're just a ragtag bunch of misfits."
Update, 8:07 a.m. September 14: The traffic lanes have been reopened, and all but four of the cops have moved across the street to where the tent city had been. The remaining protesters' reaction to that was very graphic.
Some were spitting at the cops, and others were shouting, "Fuck the police."
Nonetheless, the majority of the cops appear to be leaving. Vehicles are pulling up, and one just left, with a cop hanging onto the car from the outside.
Original post, 7:59 a.m. October 14: Right now, the cops are still in riot gear. There are about seventy of them outside with their visors on, leaning on batons in a horizontal line in front of the Capitol. Broadway between 14th and 15th is no longer shut down; only the far left lane is blocked.
Across the street, a group of about fifty people are shouting at the police. A lot of them are wearing black, carrying black flags and refusing to allow photos of them to be taken: true anarchists.
Moments ago, a speaker, echoed by calls and responses from the rest of the crowd, declared, "We're still here," and encouraged everyone to show up on Saturday, when the next major action is planned. He also said, "I would like to point out... that our numbers doubled last week from the first week... And we can gather again."
Afterward, talk turned to a possible class-action lawsuit over the tent city's dismantling.
Somehow, homeless people in the park overnight have managed to sleep through all the shouting.
Emergency and police vehicles are parked on Broadway as far down as 12th. Other cops are piling the remaining signs and debris into a giant trash trailer.
I spoke to Patricia Hughes, a security guard and medic at the camp, as well as a Campaign for a Healthy Denver advocate. She says protesters were given a letter in the early hours of the morning informing them that if they show up at the main courthouse on Tuesday, October 18, and present their IDs, they can claim whatever property was taken. Hughes estimates that about $10,000 worth of gear had been confiscated. Unfortunately, many of the people previously living in the tent city were indigent, so they don't have IDs. Besides, she says it will be virtually impossible to tell whose stuff belongs to whom.
According to Hughes, two triage stations were set up by campers in case cops dashed in and injured the protesters. One of them was in the shower of her apartment; she lives nearby. However, no such injuries took place. As for arrests, I haven't spoken to anyone who's actually witnessed one -- but they've definitely taken place. All of the kitchen staff has been arrested; they refused to leave. I'm also told that police took some people several blocks away and let them go -- but they appear to have arrested some protesters aside from the kitchen staff, too.
Even so, plenty of people remain unbowed. When asked what happens next, Hughes said, "We are Hydra. If you take some of us, we come back stronger."
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: John Hickenlooper and Michael Hancock have a stinky mess on their hands."
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.
- Donald Trump on "Big Problems" With CO Pot Laws, Flip-Flop on Legalizing Drugs
- Reader: $29,000 Per Year Isn't Enough for an Adequate Standard of Living in Denver
- Ethniche: 10 Delicious Denver-Area Dishes From a Year of Ethnic-Food Reviews