In light of the recent creation of Liberate Denver, an occupation offshoot focused on safer spaces and better internal relationships, Occupy Denver proper has had a few decisions to make. Last night, this meant a vote to officially recognize the roles of the female and LGBTQ members inside the movement. The new wording, while more symbolic than immediately practical, comes with a firm understanding that any discrimination will be more than frowned upon in the future.
In past weeks, internal unrest, particularly in regard to gender and equality issues, sparked the creation of Liberate Denver, a gathering of protesters who either support the occupation or have cut ties with the local branch in order to create a safe community space. The group currently has 108 fans on Facebook and meets on Wednesdays at the American Friends Service Committee space at 901 W. 14th Ave.
"Women and transgendered people are marginalized here and treated as 23rd-class citizens inside the movement," protester Kerri Kellerman told Westword. "People here want change for themselves, but right now it doesn't feel like they want equality. We have homeless people and addicts and tweakers just like every other group does, and we have to support all of our members equally."
In the meantime, Occupy Denver has begun to address the problem itself with a statement released this morning. Last night's 7 p.m. general assembly ended with the decision to take a stance on the issue in an effort to improve it in the future.
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The message is clear. "Equality means impact," the statement reads. "But for women and LGBTQ people to participate equally in the Occupy movement, we must be safe in occupied spaces. We know that harassment and assault happens everywhere -- and that the Occupy movement is no more immune to it than our nation's parks and parking lots -- but we also know that a movement where women and LGBTQ individuals are not safe is not a movement that serves the interests of the 99%."
The statement concludes with a call for the empowerment of women and LGBTQ representatives at general assemblies, so that decisions may be more diverse. The decision was supported in unison with a "Good Neighbor Policy" that condemns drug and alcohol abuse, verbal abuse and the abuse of personal or public property and sanitary regulations in the park.
Occupy Denver plans to make signs attesting to this decision and encourage security monitors to promote the awareness of the new policy and enforce its meaning.
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: Ideological split spurs idea for Liberate Denver to fight oppression."