Occupy Denver's Ben Meyer discusses 'fiery raid' on Countdown with Keith Olbermann
Two nights ago, Occupy Denver protester Ben Meyer woke up on the sidewalk of Broadway, put on his shoes and spent the rest of his evening with the Denver Police Department. The next night, he spoke on Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
In an Occupy-friendly summary of the night's events, Olbermann says early on in his coverage that, "The city of Denver ignored peaceful negotiations with protesters there and instead resorted to what turned out to be a fiery raid."
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As a member of the local occupation's Family of Love, a peace-oriented subsection whose members refer to themselves both jokingly and seriously as "hippies," Meyer is a consistently laidback man who is rarely seen to be publicly upset. Monday night's raid, then, was a notable exception. In photographs and at the scene, Meyer spent hours arguing with officers as they closed in on the camp and insisted he and his fellow protesters move out of the area.
Within three minutes of waking up, Meyer tells Olbermann, one of his friends in the Family of Love was arrested.The event would influence his reaction the rest of the night, but his attitude onscreen returned to relaxed mode the next day.
"We specifically asked if he would give us a time we might be raided," Meyer said of Police Chief Robert White. Meyer was one of ten protesters selected to meet with the chief at 2 p.m. Monday, and he left without an answer to that question. "He had that meeting because he said he was interested in avoiding conflict. We assumed he wouldn't do it because it was cold and snowy that night."
A Family of Love protester responds to police officers as they push him out of the park.
This assumption proved incorrect. Photos and video footage of the fires protesters set to encumbrances play heavily in Olbermann's coverage of Monday night, but even more attention has been launched at photos of homeless protester Nicole Sisneros, whom an officer pushed to the ground with a baton on video. Sisneros, who is a devout Christian, later threw her Bible into a bonfire in protest.
When asked about Sisneros, Meyer says she is schizophrenic, and he defended the group's large homeless population.
"We call it the Row, and it refers to the people who sleep out on Broadway," Meyer tells Olbermann. Last night, protesters loudly interrupted a homeless vigil led by Mayor Michael Hancock in order to call attention to the rights of their own homeless members. "What you saw there was a reaction to people who have been systematically disenfranchised time and time again, especially in this city, swept into back allies, out of sight out of mind."
In the meantime, protesters are rebuilding their presence in the area, though the movement is currently without any structures that could be referred to as "encumbrances." "We're going to continue to occupy that park," Meyer says. "Nothing has changed. This is the fifth time we've been through it."
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Photos: Occupy Denver's latest eviction ends in flames, arrests and Tebowing."
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