Occupy Denver timeline: Two-and-a-half months that have shaken the city
Monday's hearing in regard to Occupy Denver's request for a temporary restraining order against the city and county is one indication of how far the movement has come in its short life span. In the little more than two months the movement has called Broadway its ideological home, the group has seen more ups and downs than Colorado's fall thermometer. Before Judge Robert Blackburn announces a decision in favor of either side, take a look back at the occupation's best and worst moments.
• Occupy Denver held its first (and possibly messiest) general assembly on Friday, September 23. When protesters met in Lincoln Park across from the Capitol, they were immediately greeted by a state trooper who told them -- without any ominous foreshadowing -- that they could not stay on state property. One half remained on the grass while the other half moved to the sidewalk. In retrospect, it was a sign of things to come -- but protest veteran Mel Van Nice called it "beautiful."
A crowd watches Michael Moore's short speech at the occupation in November.
• The Thunderdome, the kitchen that has since been torn down and re-created six times, was the group's first institution, supported in those initial weeks by committees organized to protect and oversee a growing Occupy Denver population.
• October 7: Everyman rapper Lupe Fiasco stopped by the occupation with tents and parkas.
• On October 11, Governor John Hickenlooper publicly announced that the occupation could not continue to remain on state property.
• Hickenlooper stayed true to his word. From 3 a.m. until roughly 6 a.m. on the morning of October 14, police arrested 24 protesters -- the first busts here. Most were taken in on charges of unlawful conduct on state property, though protester and medical marijuana activist Corey Donahue, in a telltale twist of fate, earned an additional charge of resisting arrest.
• On October 15, there were an additional 26 arrests -- adding up to fifty pleas of "not guilty" echoing in front of a judge over two days. (Donahue also earned a charge of unlawful sexual conduct: "a bad nut-tap joke gone wrong," he explained.) The back-to-back altercations included the first use of pepper spray and police batons on protesters, and the Colorado State Patrol closed Lincoln Park to the group on a permanent basis. The cost to the Denver police and sheriff's departments to date: more than $700,000.
• The protesters moved to Civic Center Park, where, on October 18, the sprinklers were turned on while they slept. It was cold. The same day, protesters scheduled a meeting with Mayor Michael Hancock, which went approximately nowhere.
• October 19: Occupy Colorado Springs held a candlelight vigil to discuss the violence at Occupy Denver. The action gained attention outside of Colorado, too: The Daily Beast named Denver "The Angriest City in America," thanks to both Occupy Denver and Tea Party protests.
• On October 20, concerned that agent provocateurs were distracting and damaging the gathering, an Occupy Denver general assembly voted to ban its first protester, a woman named Molly, from all group activities.
• Misunderstandings between police and protesters grew tense on October 25, when officers descended on the camp and took down a cardboard structure. The city's no-structures rule was soon reconfirmed when an igloo was bulldozed after protester Stephen Lidanne was arrested (for the first time) inside of it.
• October 26: Five occupiers were hospitalized for symptoms relating to the season's first snowstorm. Since then, two more have also faced similar circumstances.
• Later that week, police arrested 21 protesters during an altercation involving more than forty police vehicles and 200 police officers in riot gear. The night of October 29 was the most brutal to date: Phillip Becerra was shot in the face with pepper balls, while 21-year-old Andrew Cleres was shot out of a tree. The police launched two investigations for felony assault on a police officer.
The timeline continues below.
A police officer aims a pepper ball gun at protesters during a Saturday altercation.
• October 31: After protesters made an aborted attempt to occupy the Denver City and County Building on Halloween night, 21 police cars monitored Occupy Denver.
• On November 1, the Colorado chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union started an investigation about the constitutionality and safety of police action at Occupy Denver.
• On November 3, filmmaker Michael Moore visited Civic Center Park.
• November 6: Occupy Denver elected its first leader (of a leaderless movement): Shelby, a three-and-a-half-year-old Border collie mix who filed a request to meet with Governor Hickenlooper two days later, during the group's first attempt to occupy the governor's office -- an effort that has continued periodically.
• On November 12, the largest police presence to date greeted protesters. More than 200 officers arrived in riot gear, armed with pepper spray and batons, to remove three tents and any encumbrances the group had created on the sidewalk. Between November 12 and 13, 23 protesters were arrested and burdened with the highest bond rate yet: $750 at minimum.
• The same day, protester Daniel Garcia was arrested for honking his horn two or three times in front of Civic Center Park as a sign of support for the occupation. Since then, Garcia's story has provided much of the impetus for the current injunction request against the city.
• On November 22, leading Denver civil rights attorney David Lane filed a request for a temporary restraining order against the city and county of Denver with respect to what his firm, Kilmer, Lane & Nerman, argues is a violation of the protesters' First Amendment rights. (Since then, three of the plaintiffs have seen their charges dropped.) The arguments deal specifically with retaliation for honking or donating to support the occupation, as well as the encumbrance regulations that restrict what property can be placed on the sidewalk at Civic Center Park.
• November 23: Occupy Denver's Thunderdome visited the Denver Rescue Mission to protest against Governor John Hickenlooper and Mayor Michael Hancock in support of its own ability to feed the homeless. The event ended with protesters greeting both Hancock and Hickenlooper (tensely) before the politicians left the site.
• In the last week of November, it became clear that two state troopers have filed protection orders against protester Corey Donahue. Donahue learned of the fact when he attempted to enter the Capitol on November 29 and was banned from entry because at least one of the troopers was currently inside.
• December 5: On Monday, the hearing for Occupy Denver vs. the City and County of Denver hit the federal courtroom of Judge Robert Blackburn, who alluded to a possible decision the following day. Both sides spoke extensively about the protesters' rights, and cross examination uncovered a variety of salient points. (Most notably, this included evidence that a police officer had set up a fake Twitter account to harass the occupiers). As of this morning, the ruling is still out on whether Blackburn will grant a temporary restraining order.
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver hearing: Police officer made fake Twitter account to harass occupation idiots."
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