In the wake of twenty new Occupy Denver arrests made Saturday, three more were added to that list when Civic Center Park grew tense again last night. During an attempt to remove a newly established table from the curb, about thirty officers visited the park and dispensed pepper spray on the crowd for the second night in a row. One of the three latest arrests is that of Corey Donahue, who has been busted twice in relation to Occupy Denver and faces a possible felony charge.
Donahue's third occupation-related charge came during an attempt to block a police car from exiting the park, and his arrest was quickly accompanied by two others, with those busted also held under charges related to inciting a riot. Following Donahue's interaction with police, several other protesters argued in defense of their friend and attempted to persuade officers to release him, at which point police flanked the crowd and dispensed pepper spray. At about 5:30 p.m., only an hour later, jokes had already began to spread around the park that the group is becoming immune to pepper spray.
"We see it often enough," one protester said with a laugh. Later, the night included dancing and singing as a group of approximately fifty protesters continued their vigil at 10 p.m.
Last night ended in the injuries of two police officers, according to the Denver Police Department. The skuffle began with the erection of a temporary table on the sidewalk of Civic Center Park with the intention of serving food from it. When police took offense to the violation of the park's newly strict no-encumbrance rule, protesters attempted to defend the table and their rights to continue occupying in the park in the same fashion they had previously been allowed to. Denver Police Department officers again visited the park around 11:30 p.m. last night to speak to protesters about sleeping bags and their interpretation as possible encumbrances. Occupy Denver is still currently allowed to sleep on the sidewalk, but its members are no longer permitted to establish any kind of permanent or semi-permanent features, such as the front desk, satellite neighborhood and kitchen area the group used to feature. This rule has been applied more loosely in the past, but police cracked down on Saturday after providing warnings at midnight Friday morning.
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Both Lincoln Park and Civic Center Park are currently open again to the public, though they are guarded by constant police presence. Last night's 3 and 7 p.m. general assemblies took place as regularly scheduled, and a few hundred people rotated in and out of a newly cleared park. As of last night around 8 p.m., nine of Saturday's twenty arrestees were still in jail when the latest busts were added to the legal team's roster.
Two of the three protesters taken into custody last night are under investigation for felony assault on a police officer, according to the Denver Police Department, bringing the total of Occupy Denver protesters arrested for that offense to six, four of whom were incarcerated in the past two days.
Because the interpretation of what constitutes a structure or an encumbrance in Civic Center Park has been so recently reconstituted, Occupy Denver's PR team released a statement about Saturday night's demonstration that draws attention to the group's confusion. "These are certainly the kind of actions one might expect from the Egyptian Police in the last days of the Arab Spring, but not in Denver," reads the statement, presented by Occupy Denver's general assembly. "Our calls for the state to respect our first amendment rights have apparently fallen on deaf ears."
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: Highest bond rate yet, photojournalist among 20 arrested."